McLaren keeping options open for first Honda test

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McLaren racing director Eric Boullier says that the team is keeping its options open for when to test with a Honda power unit for the first time.

It was confirmed last year that the Japanese motoring giant would be returning to Formula 1 in 2015 as a power unit supplier for the British team after six years away.

Its return was met with widespread approval in the F1 community, given that it rekindles the famous McLaren-Honda partnership from the late 1980s and early ’90s.

Together, they won four world championships in five years, with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost’s rivalry being a hallmark of the partnership.

McLaren’s current deal with Mercedes runs out after the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi this November. However, there is a two-day F1 test being held at the circuit in the week after the race, and it was thought that McLaren could debut the Honda engine there.

Honda supremo Yasuhisa Arai was quoted as saying that this would not be possible, meaning that the team would have to wait until the first 2015 test in Jerez next February, but Boullier is keeping his options open.

“Regarding the first tests of a McLaren-Honda powered car, there is no decision yet about when and where,” the Frenchman explained to the media in Monza on Saturday.

“This is still open and it is true that there was a comment [from Arai], but we will not give a definite answer now because we do not know exactly, but it is very likely that it will be before Jerez as well.

“It is true that the safe side is that we will be in Jerez with a McLaren-Honda car, but we keep the door open so that if everything is matching our schedule we can run it earlier.”