AUTOSPORT have analyzed the situation in which team McLaren before the season 2017, and advised the supplier of Honda motors to reconsider its approach.
Although McLaren-Honda have made every effort to downplay the seriousness of their problems pre-season tests, the situation seems to have moved beyond discussions of the crisis. Now it is rather a question of how severe this crisis…
Two weeks of tests Japanese motorists used more motor units than are permitted for the entire season. They worked with less power than in 2016, which led to the lack of speed more than on 20 km/h on the straight.
The longest cut, which pilots McLaren managed to overcome, was only 11 laps, and the loss of time on the track did not fully understand the work of the new chassis. The apogee of this was the criticism from Fernando Alonso.
In the winter there were rumors that Honda failed to achieve the desired result after the rejection of the controversial concept of “size zero” and development of a completely new engine.
The first problems started when running a new car for promotional filming, but it was a minor problem that does not affect training.
But barely started the first day of pre-season tests, it turned out that the departure of the McLaren car on the track is delayed due to problems with the oil tank design.
Next worse: on the second day due to an unexplained failure required the replacement of the engine. But things are looking up after that, still did not go. A whole series of problems with the electrics and not allowed to quietly focus work. There were suggestions that such frequent failures associated with excessive vibration.
By the end of the second test Honda has set a fifth power unit. During the season it would have been fraught with a fine.
The only basis for at least some optimism is the fact that Honda was working with a limited engine power. It is assumed that in comparison with the configuration of the motor on the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at the end of last year, capacity was 40-50 HP less.
Neither McLaren, nor Honda, these figures are not confirmed, but Fernando Alonso suggested that for reasons of reliability, the engine was seriously “snuffed out” in power.
“At the moment Yes, we have less horsepower than last year. But the modes we use are not even close match racing, said the double world champion. – So while we will not solve the existing problems, we will not see real power.”
The contract Alonso to McLaren ends the action at the end of 2017, and another tough season, putting in doubt the career of the Spaniard.
Yes, he has already said he wants to stay in Formula 1, regardless of the developments this year. It can be considered as a signal of willingness to suggestions from the top teams.
But the risk is the departure of Alonso is not the only danger of another disastrous season for McLaren. If, indeed, it would be this bad, the team from Woking may lose leading experts, will receive a smaller prize income, and potential sponsors will lose interest. To get out of this downward spiral can be very difficult.
If Honda really wants to succeed in the long term, you probably need something to revise in its approach and start to listen to the advice of specialists such as Gilles Simon, and all of McLaren, not reluctant to accept outside help.
Maybe getting rid of your old mentality, they finally will have a real opportunity to overcome a difficult situation in which they found themselves now. We need a new approach, new relationships, new technology, fresh ideas and a willingness to be more open to change.
McLaren’s contract with Honda was signed for many years to come. Besides the commercial contribution of the Japanese manufacturer in a team means that just to break the agreement and walk away now will not work.
But how much more time may be required English-Japanese tandem to achieve success?
If, nevertheless, it comes to the breakup, at least on the side of the McLaren will be the regulations that would guarantee a competitive engine.
In the framework of the agreement reached last year, in the case of care Hondа the mechanics of Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault (engines each of which now employ three teams) must when requested to approve the delivery to customers (subject to certain conditions).
In fact, according to the rules, the decision on which engine in this case will get McLaren can be taken by draw. One of the companies even jokingly offered to host a show live on television to create more intrigue.
This event, of course, while it seems far from reality, but it’s safe to say that in the corridors of the bases in Woking and Sakura’s hot right now.
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