Tag Archives: Mclaren Honda

Eric Boullier: “The car is better than last year”

McLaren boss Eric Boullier says that the team has had a good start to its test programme with the new MP4-31, although the Frenchman prefers not to speculate about its ultimate potential.

Jenson Button gave the car its first miles at Barcelona this morning, and the Brit ultimately completed 84 laps and finished the day in sixth place, some 1.7s off Sebastian Vettel.

“All the numbers we found on the car are correlating with what we expected,” said Boullier. “So if you base your winter work on simulations and expectations, it’s a good sign, that means our tools are working properly, so that means the car is better than last year. We’ll see.

Asked how much better it might be he said: “It’s better. I’m not going to answer you how much, because you build the wrong expectations outside our world. And even us, we don’t know what the others have been doing over the winter.”

Boullier refused to talk in any detail about how much progress Honda has made over the winter.

“We need all the tools to do it properly. As far as I’m concerned I’m in charge of the chassis part, drivers, some of the stuff like this. On this part we are trying to be on target. As far as the engine part, you need to ask Honda. But we will win when we have the best drivers, the best chassis, the best car and the best engine.

“I think there has been some good improvement on the engine side. Clearly they are on the right path, and they have clearly fixed a few issues which were hurting us last year, so it’s good so far.”

Boullier insisted that the team is heading in the right direction.

“I think there is a good base now. If you look at the other cars like Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari, the current regulations force you to develop your car concept over a couple of years, or three years let’s say. So you need time, first.

“We decided last year to go radically different, and it paid off, or sort of paid off, because we caught up on some big teams last year in terms of performance. We have to see now where we are this year. I think the base is good, the confidence is there now, everybody is working hard and jointly, which is important.”


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More power won’t spoil McLaren’s handling, says Alonso

Fernando Alonso insists that a lack of power is not masking any unexpected deficiencies in the McLaren chassis – in other words he expects its handling to remain consistent as the engine performance is ramped up in the coming weeks.

Both drivers have expressed their satisfaction with the MP4-30. Alonso noted yesterday that: “It’s a car that’s not too tricky, or it’s not picky, let’s say. It’s a car that gives you confidence, every lap you do you can push more and more, and it doesn’t make you any funny surprises.”

Some observers suspect that the chassis might not prove to be so user friendly as the power unit becomes more effective, but Alonso is confident that that won’t happen.

“No I don’t think so,” said Alonso. “I think we are aware of this problem, and we are making sure that the directions we go with the car are suitable with the power we have now, and the power that we may have.

“Maybe it will change some things, some braking performance, some downshifts, some traction problems or whatever that maybe with more power it raises a problem, but we are making sure we are ready when that day arrives.”

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Ron Dennis: “It’s challenging at the moment…”

Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button both retired from the Malaysian GP, but McLaren chairman Ron Dennis says that nevertheless it was a positive weekend for the team and Honda.

Prior to stopping the drivers had at least demonstrated that the cars were closer to the pace of those ahead, and in addition they ran a respectable amount of laps in practice.

“Both drivers were extremely complimentary about high-speed cornering performance, and braking characteristics,” Dennis told this writer. “A whole range of positives came out of the weekend. I think we’re very strong in certain parts of the circuit. Clearly we aren’t where we want to be with the engine, and nor is Honda, but we are getting there.

“The retirement reasons were slightly related but not identical. The primary engines have not been damaged, because we stopped. They’ll be the engines for the next Grand Prix, albeit with some reliability components changed.”

Dennis has no regrets about committing to the Japanese manufacturer, and says it’s just a matter of time before things come together.

“We have a steep learning curve, and of course we want to win races, but we want to be on a path to World Championships. And to do that you need the complete support, and focussed support, of an OEM. Yes it’s challenging at the moment, but we’re working hard with Honda and we will get there sooner than people realise. It goes step by step. It will be Europe before we’ll have a pace we can measure.”

Regarding the return of Alonso he said: “It’s great, I think he’s done a great job all weekend, in every way.”


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