Ron Dennis frustrated by lack of engine parity with Mercedes works team

Ron Dennis made it clear today that he believes that McLaren has been at a disadvantage relative to the Mercedes works team this year.

Dennis said that McLaren has not had the chance to use the new power unit to its full advantage because of a lack of access to data, and even hinted that the team had not had “the best engines.”

His words made it pretty clear that the team’s 20-season partnership with Mercedes is under strain as it edges towards its conclusion.

Ron was commenting on why McLaren has put itself in the position of being Honda’s works team in 2015.

“One thing that jumps you if you look at all of the qualifications of all of this year is the time difference between the Mercedes-Benz works team and the other teams,” said Dennis. “By and large it’s always in excess of a second, putting aside the pace which they can generate in a Grand Prix when they’re on the back foot.

“What that means is that in my opinion, an opinion held by many people in our organisation, is that you have no chance of winning a World Championship if you are not receiving the best engines from whoever is manufacturing your engines.

“A modern Grand Prix engine in this moment in time is not just about sheer power, it’s about how you harvest the energy, it’s about how you store the energy, and effectively if you don’t have control of that process – meaning access to source code – then you are not going to be able to stabilise your car in the entry to corners, etc, and you lose lots of lap time.

“So even though you have the same brand of engine that does not mean you have the ability to optimise the engine. So you’ve got to start by putting yourself in a position where you have the best engine available. That’s what we’ve done for the approaching years. We had a great partnership with Mercedes, but we intend to hit the ground running with Honda.”

When asked by this writer to respond to Ron’s comments Toto Wolff said: “There are the same engines in every car out there, and you see quite some difference between customers. Of course as a power unit manufacturer and chassis manufacturer you have certain advantages on integration, and that comes down to mechanical balance, centre of gravity, etc.

“I wouldn’t even want to use the terminology ‘source code,’ because it doesn’t make any sense. They have been our most valuable customer in the past, and a great team, and they are switching to a competitor in Honda, and obviously we are pretty aware of that.”

8 Comments

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8 responses to “Ron Dennis frustrated by lack of engine parity with Mercedes works team

  1. Eli

    ““I wouldn’t even want to use the terminology ‘source code,’ because it doesn’t make any sense. They have been our most valuable customer in the past, and a great team, and they are switching to a competitor in Honda, and obviously we are pretty aware of that.”

    So basically Wolf confirmed that McLaren don’t have the access to ‘source code’🙂

    • anon

      I was under the impression that a fair amount of the ‘source code’ was already standardised due to the use of standardised electronic components.

      To be honest, I would suspect that the gap between Mercedes and McLaren owes more to the relative strength of the W05’s chassis versus the current McLaren. FOM have been showing the apex speeds of a number of cars during the practise sessions, and through fast corners, such as Spoon, the Mercedes cars have been able to consistently carry much more speed through the corners than their rivals.

      Equally, in Suzuka a large chunk of Mercedes’s time advantage has been coming in the first sector, which places a fairly heavy emphasis on aero performance. Indeed, when Boullier was discussing McLaren’s prospects ahead of this race, he specifically cited McLaren’s poor high speed aero balance as why he expected to struggle, so I can’t help but feel that Ron is looking to blame Mercedes for internal failings by McLaren…

    • McLaren probably have more access to any source code used by the the ECU than any other team; they manufacture the units. It’s not so much source code, but the settings that Mercedes use in their ECU – this is why Wolf points out that it’s terminology that doesn’t make any sense. If Williams can make good use of the PU, then it goes to show just how good a customer team can be.

      Ron is just being political here – trying to make out as if the issues with the chassis were really down to Mercedes rather than McLaren themselves. Even when they were the “works” team for Merc, McLaren had a habit of making a car that was competitive but with a narrow sweet spot or crap with no sweet spot.

      The simple truth is that out of the last six years, McLaren have made a terrible car for three of them (2009, 2013, 2014), and a competitive but difficult car for the other three. Even as a Mercedes works team. Nobody is being fooled my Ron’s attempts at passing the blame – especially this long time McLaren fan.

  2. Russ

    How was this not expected?When there was no Mercedes works team Ron got all of the goodies.Now,not so much.The question is,why is Williams making the Mclaren look third rate with the same engine they have.

    • Mike

      Because they aren’t moving to a engine competitor next year. Why on earth Mercedes would give Mclaren the same level treatment in a engine formula age is crazy. Mclaren would have surely known this. Why would Mercedes give Honda the chance to learn even more about their engine. You’re not going to share all the trade secrets and upcoming secret developments with somebody who will be with the competition next year. I like Ron but I think his comments here are a little silly and short sighted.

  3. If I am correct, Mclaren had declared Honda partnership well before 2014 season began. And they have failed to produce the competitive car in last 2 years. So why they suddenly blame Mercedes for not sharing the source code to control engine this season?

    They started the season with double podium finish in Australia and back then they were sure that they will be able to carry this form over the year. But as season progressed, it became clear that they still lack large amount of down-force as compared to Mercedes & Williams.

    Williams on the other hand, has been very competitive this year. This is not just because of Mercedes power unit. Rob Smedley has mentioned number of occasions that they have been adding down-force to their car with number of upgrades. So in other words, I don’t believe that Mercedes will only hand over so called “source code” to only Williams and not to Mclaren & Force India. Even if Williams got the such a source code, why they are not able to beat Mercedes?

    so clearly Mclaren is using Mercedes power units to hide their uncompetitive chassis.

  4. Toto Wolfs Guilty Conscience

    More evidence of how unclassy and undeserving the worthless 2015 titles really are.

    Tyregate showed last year how low Mercedes were going.

    This confirms it.

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