McLaren-Honda re­signed to strug­gle

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

Hav­ing used up all their de­vel­op­ment to­kens, and with their new PU fail­ing to boost per­for­mance, the rest of their year looks grim

McLaren and Honda have re­signed them­selves to mak­ing no ma­jor per­for­mance im­prove­ments for the rest of the sea­son.

A new power unit with im­proved com­bus­tion made its de­but at the Bel­gian GP, but its per­for­mance dis­ap­pointed and McLaren pro­duced their least com­pet­i­tive qual­i­fy­ing re­sult since the Span­ish GP in May.

Honda F1 boss Ya­suhisa Arai had said that he hoped the en­gine that de­buted in Spa would be com­pa­ra­ble with Fer­rari’s. But it re­mains the least com­pet­i­tive en­gine in F1 by some mar­gin.

Arai in­sisted the en­gine had per­formed as ex­pected: “It worked well, but un­for­tu­nately it did not work ef­fec­tively here be­cause it is a very tough cir­cuit.” Spa and Monza ex­pose the weak­nesses of the Honda en­gine more than any other be­cause cars are raced at full-throt­tle for most of the lap. The team hope the up­grade will work bet­ter on tracks such as Sin­ga­pore.

The en­gine’s big­gest prob­lem is its lack of hy­brid per­for­mance. Its ERS is par­tic­u­larly weak, and at Spa it was run­ning out of elec­tric boost half­way through the straights from La Source to Les Combes and from Paul Frère to Blanchi­mont. This meant the car was de­prived of 160bhp for a signicant por­tion of the lap.

In ad­di­tion to this, the Honda en­gine is said to be 100-150bhp down on the Mercedes when run­ning at full power. Add these two decits to­gether, and it's it is easy to see why McLaren were nearly three sec­onds off the pace at Spa.

The prob­lem can­not be solved with­out a re­design of the com­pres­sor and MGU-H, which re­cov­ers energy from the turbo. Honda can­not in­tro­duce that this year be­cause they do not have suf­fi­cient de­vel­op­ment to­kens.

This lack of per­for­mance is caus­ing fric­tion be­tween Honda and McLaren to leak into the public do­main, with Arai stat­ing in Hungary that the car it­self is also lack­ing per­for­mance.

McLaren rac­ing di­rec­tor Eric Boul­lier said: “We are happy to have Honda as a part­ner and Honda is happy with McLaren so far. Maybe we didn’t have the ma­tu­rity to be per­form­ing as much as we ex­pected, but we are work­ing very hard as a works team and this is very, very im­por­tant for us to be a works team.”

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