Further engine problems in Austria frustrate McLaren

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McLaren racing director Eric Boullier made no secret of his frustration after the team encountered yet more problems with its Honda power unit during practice for the Austrian Grand Prix on Friday.

Drivers Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso were forced to make regular stoppages during both practice sessions, suffering from a range of problems including an electrical connection issue and a faulty ignition.

Although the MP4-30 car did appear to be more comfortable when running on the super-soft tire, the team was limited to just 74 laps in total on Friday.

“Today has been a frustrating one, full of minor problems that, one way or another, managed to limit our running during the sessions,” Boullier said.

“Fernando had an electrical connection issue at the start of FP1, which took some time to cure, and then he had a minor gear selection issue towards the end of the morning.

“Nonetheless, he was able to run a few laps with the new aero package, and his initial feedback seemed favourable. It would have been nice to have put some more miles on it today, but we’ll look at the data tonight and push ahead tomorrow.

“Jenson had an ignition plug issue in FP2, and that brought his running to an early halt. We stopped Fernando as a precaution, too, although there was no reported problem on his car.

“There’s plenty of potential in the car, so let’s hope we can get a day of clear running on Saturday to see just what’s possible. Tomorrow is another day.”

Speaking after practice, Button was pleased with the progress that the team had made between sessions, but he expects to require further changes to the power unit that would warrant a penalty.

“We had an ignition plug issue which stopped us running this afternoon, which was a shame,” Button said. “Having said that, although we didn’t get a lot of running under our belts, we were still able to improve the car quite a bit between the sessions, which was positive.

“Tomorrow will be tricky, because it’s likely that I’ll get some grid penalties. When that happens, you need a safety car in the race to bring you back into the game, so hopefully that’ll be the case.

“It’s all about improving, getting the best from what you have, and learning for the next grand prix.”