McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has insisted that there are no fundamental issues with Honda’s new Formula 1 power unit design despite a number of issues arising during testing earlier this week.
McLaren enters the 2017 F1 campaign hopeful of returning to the podium, having not recorded a top-three finish since linking up with Honda at the start of 2015.
Power unit issues blighted McLaren for much of the 2015 campaign before progress was made last year, with the British team finishing sixth in the constructors’ championship.
Such progress led to hopes that 2017 could yield even better results, only for McLaren to lose hours of track time through the first pre-season test due to issues with Honda’s power unit.
The Japanese manufacturer has changed the layout of its power unit for 2017, but Boullier insists that the issues experienced during testing are not set to blight McLaren’s entire season.
“It is fixable, but it was not the plan to have these issues,” Boullier said, as quoted by the official F1 website.
“They are not really serious, as there are no fundamental issues with the design.”
Having seen drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne manage just 208 laps in total – by comparison, mileage leader Mercedes managed 558 – Boullier conceded that McLaren’s expectations for the first test had not been met.
“We had slightly higher expectations coming to Barcelona, but then the week didn’t start exactly as we wanted,” Boullier said.
“I think there is a bit more work to be done in Japan to investigate why we had those issues: issues that we absolutely did not expect to have – and for sure neither did Honda.”
Boullier added that McLaren was in “a much better situation” than at this point in 2015 or 2016, but conceded: “It is not good enough for our expectations and the expectations of our fans after three years.
“Honda are still three years behind in time to the others. Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari started in 2010 – and all these three started with an existing organization, as all three were already doing F1 engines
“In 2013 Honda decided to come back to Formula One and started from scratch: empty buildings! They had to buy everything and find the right people.
“So to be fair you have manufacturers who had seven years and are still struggling, and Honda started four years after the others.
“These units are so complicated that you have to be really process driven and go step by step.
“Unfortunately there is no short cut.”