McLaren push Honda for improved power units
Eric Boullier says poor performance “hurts commercially” with Honda hybrid system thought to be to blame for lack of power
The rst visible tensions have begun to emerge in the relationship between McLaren and Honda as the two continue to struggle at the back of the grid, halfway through the rst season of their renewed partnership. McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has admitted that the car’s lack of competitiveness is damaging. He said he was reminding Honda “every day that we need to be successful as soon as possible”.
He added: “The damage is easy to understand. You establish the brand with your success and by repeating it. McLaren have a number of wins and championships and have established their excellence. Commercially it hurts because a lot of companies are interested in joining us, but some question the lack of results – and I don’t think we can wait for very long any more.”
“We put pressure on Honda, they put pressure on us. Maybe more on them so far because we need to have more performance. Everybody knows this, they know this, we know this. It is true there is a timing issue because Honda are in F1 but their main business is selling cars. But we are in F1 to win races. We have to make sure the timings of both projects are aligned.”
The Honda engine is thought to be the biggest factor in McLaren’s lack of performance. Insiders say it is as much as 150bhp down on the Mercedes and Ferrari units. It is further behind in races than in qualifying because its hybrid system does not recover energy sufciently for it to run fully boosted on consecutive laps. That means that between 80 and 90 per cent of the car’s laptime decit to Mercedes is down to the engine. Honda received good news when the FIA passed plans to give them an extra engine. Both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button had already been given penalties for using fth and sixth power unit elements. The ‘free’ engines were tted to both cars in Hungary, and McLaren scored their best result of the year, with Alonso nishing fth and Button ninth. The result was a boost, but it was largely down to the many race incidents, and not a sign of improved form. Honda have promised McLaren an upgraded engine in time for the Belgian GP at Spa.