The McLaren MCL32’s time on track during winter testing didn’t quite go to plan due to numerous issues with the Honda power unit.
The team had hoped for a smoother time at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya but Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne’s running was constantly disrupted by problems.
Hardly the greatest way to start a new season, it’s like a case of déjà vu from the last two seasons – but arguably, even worse.
There have even been reports of McLaren approaching Mercedes to sound out whether an engine deal could be possible in the future. Not particularly surprising.
McLaren-Honda managed just 424 laps over eight days of testing and its longest run was reportedly just 11 laps. The Australian Grand Prix is 58 laps.
Racing director Eric Boullier has told Spanish publication AS that McLaren isn’t sure it can finish the first race. He said:
“Oh, I hope so, but I don’t know. The truth is we’re having more problems than we expected. We knew that we’d encounter some things [in testing], but truly not as many as we’re seeing. We’re always working to reduce the [number] of problems and to be able to go faster.”
Boullier stands by the fact the McLaren chassis is a good base for the team ahead of the new season and added plenty of new parts are coming to the car in the next couple of weeks:
“We have set ourselves some very ambitious targets. [We’ve tried to] improve the chassis, downforce, suspension, whatever we can… I think the car is a good platform and we’re going to bring in more parts over the next few weeks, especially for Australia. I don’t know if the Honda engine will be able to compete with Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault, but if it is and we get a good final package, we’ll be competitive.”
It seems there’s a lot of hard work to be done at McLaren to even just make the chequered flag, but let’s wait and see what the team can do.