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.”