McLaren taking methodical approach in first real Honda running this week

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As with any new package, it will take time to perfect and get all the issues sorted. McLaren faces the first steps to sorting everything out this week in Abu Dhabi, with its interim MP4-29X1/H1 chassis and first real running with its new Honda V6 power unit.

The team had a filming day with the car prior to Abu Dhabi.

Understandably, McLaren racing director Eric Boullier is playing down expectations and said this week is more a data-gathering exercise than anything else.

“Running a modern Formula 1 car is a very complicated procedure – and this week’s test is all about how the departments at Sakura, Milton Keynes and Woking learn to work with the operational hub at the circuit,” Boullier explained, via the team’s release from today’s running.

“This test is an opportunity for us to build up that operational strength; to get McLaren and Honda working together under the same roof. We encountered a number of issues, including a lengthy check of electrical installations this morning, but it’s satisfying to see that we got the engine fired up, the car out of the garage, and some laps on the board in the afternoon.

“We’re not chasing laptimes this week, it’s just about gradually expanding our knowledge. Tomorrow will hopefully be all about conducting longer runs as we learn about different parts of the engine, and run through each separate system.”

McLaren has tasked reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne with the testing for both days. Vandoorne was upbeat even despite the lack of running on Tuesday, beyond installation laps.

“We’d hoped to get a few more laps under our belts today, but we had a fuel data-logging issue that stopped the car a couple of times,” he said. “However, the team are already analysing the situation and we’ll hopefully cure it ahead of tomorrow.

“Nevertheless, it’s been a very positive day for us. At this stage of development, any lap we complete has a benefit – and it’s better to be solving these initial teething problems in November rather than in Jerez next February. I’ve already given the team some useful feedback.”

McLaren will no doubt be one of the top teams to watch over the winter, as more work is done on the power unit and with the driver lineup due to be announced on or after December 1.