Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017

No fundamental problem with power unit – McLaren

2017 F1 season

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McLaren says there is no fundamental problem with its new Honda power unit despite suffering two failures in as many days at the start of testing.

The problem which sidelined Fernando Alonso on day one was traced to an oil tank fault which has been fixed.

“So far we can live with the current modified oil tanker,” said Honda’s engine head Yusuke Hasegawa. “But obviously through the season we’re always trying to improve the system so if we have a chance we may introduce some more modification. So far I don’t think it’s a problem to run with this one.”

Lance Stroll, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017
F1 testing day three in pictures
However the team does not expect to identify the cause of Stoffel Vandoorne’s day two stoppage until tomorrow.

“We don’t know the exact cause of the problem in yesterday’s engine,” said Hasegawa. “So far we run the same operation.”

“We didn’t change anything. We don’t know the cause of the problem so we can’t tell. But I believe we can solve the issue before Melbourne.”

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier admitted the team have started testing with “many issues” but said “I think no one is fundamental”.

“All of them are fix-able. I’m not sure we know yet, even Hasegawa-san, all of them, because yesterday’s engine is on its way to Japan.”

Alonso was able to cover more than a race distance on day three of the test, allowing McLaren to draw some early conclusions about its new car. Boullier said the initial impression was “pretty good”.

“I think obviously any car in the world, even the perfect car, when you put the car on the limit we always have understeer, oversteer or something like this. But I guess at least for the chassis both drivers feel the chassis is good.”

“There will be a very high development rate for the beginning of the season especially. I expect most of the teams to bring nearly a new car in Australia already. This base is good, the platform is good and we can develop along this which is good.”

The pair also dismissed reports claiming the latest setbacks will prompt a divorce between McLaren and Honda.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 34 comments on “No fundamental problem with power unit – McLaren”

    1. No Fundamental problem. Just not any good is all.

      1. @mrboerns I’m afraid you’re right. Even worse: I’m seriously afraid McLaren-Honda will not be any better than they were in 2016. So I’m just gonna say it: McLaren should lose Honda as quick as possible.

        Honda used to be awesome, back in the 80s/90s, but they’re just lost in today’s technologies. We see the equivalent happening in road cars and other sports. The first NSX was a great car, just as the first few generations of their most important road car, the Civic. But the last 10-12 years are horrible: woeful designs, hybrid engines that hardly work any better (power/efficiency/smoothness) than a regular engine (Civic Hybrid is a good example of a great concept gone terribly wrong), a new NSX that’s fantastic on paper but in reality is just a GT-R rip-off in all the wrong ways, etc. I could go on.

        Which reminds me of another Japanese manufacturer that somehow isn’t in F1 anymore, but ticks all the right boxes that Honda seem to do wrong the last 10-12 years. A hugely successful hybrid car (Prius) with a fantastic concepted hybrid engine that’s still unbeatable today and is still more efficient than a Volvo V60 or BMW 330e plug-in hybrid. This same concept is now used across the whole Lexus range as well, with incredibly smooth and powerful but especially economical hybrid engines. But most importantly: they run very successfully in WRC again in which they were 3rd in the first race and won the second race right away, but they also almost won Le Mans. I know almost doesn’t count in sports, but this was the most heartbreaking moment in the history of Le Mans, you have to agree. Anyway, in this hybrid era, they would seem the perfect fit, both as a manufacturer and as an engine supplier.

        1. I agree wholeheartedly, but I think you miss one point, Honda recognize this in themselves, and are in F1 to help correct the lack of engineering excellence they have had the last decade or so….

        2. Many thanks Rick (@addvariety) for your comments. It gives some very insightful background to what’s happening at the moment at Honda. I used to own the Honda Civic 1.5S back in the late 80s and it was a phenomenal car; it drove like something double its size (I’d say I’m lucky to be alive, that car was so fun to drive). During the 80s and 90s my whole family drove Hondas and no-one of us ever had any technical problems with them. So since the remarriage between McLaren and Honda I was presuming as inevitable that the pairing would prove amazing competitors. It’s going to be very sad if it doesn’t happen.

        3. The problem with Honda, or any road cars is that there is not no innovation coming out of Japan. There is a big problem with the education that younger generation simply don’t study or not as competitive as rest of the world.

          Korean and China will overtake Japan soon in the vehicle department. Samsung already killed Sony. Lenove, Haier or Huawei will also be dominating soon.

          They really have to fix their education system.

    2. I doubt they’ve even tried to run the engine on more than 50% yet. They’re not in a position to say if there is a fundamental problem or not. It might just be fundamentally slow.

      1. So far it feels a lot like 2 years ago. I guess by the next week of testing we will get a clearer idea of how big their issues are.

      2. Also a bit early to judge about the chassis despite Gary Anderson noticing the McLaren could’nt pass turn 2 and 3 like the others and suggested an overall lack of grip. I hope there is another reason behind it.

        1. Yeah, i think is a bit early too, and as Gary also suggested, it looks that the Honda engine had more to give, but it was the car that was lacking grip on these corners.

    3. Would work perfectly in a street car – nothing wrong…

      besides slow and loosing oil…

      like all other Honda engines…;-)

      1. Not fuel efficient to be a Honda road car.

    4. Yawn. Happens every year.

    5. I’m hoping that Mclaren weren’t running the Engine in race mode, and instead were running it in safe mode. If they were running it at full output…. then it’s probably slower than last years PU… somewhere in the GP2 category again.

      1. @todfod Even if McLaren had the Mercedes engines, they would still be 5th or 6th in the constructor’s. Their chassis is not very good.

        1. @mashiat
          They would have been 4th…. which is a heck of a lot better than dead last. Do you think Williams and Force India will actually build a better chassis than Mclaren? Toro Rosso might, but they’ll be down on power with the Renault PU.

          1. @todfod I think that Toro Rosso has a superior chassis to them, and Williams might not have the outright downforce of the McLaren, but they might have a better overall package with their low drag setup.

    6. PR Recovery mode! They talked some good talk, but 2016 Mercedes level? Haha.

      But the chassis is good, oh of course yes, the chassis is good. I’m sure the chassis will again be the best of all the teams right, naturally, just let down by the engine, which of course is reaching the set goals as were expected and Honda is doing a good job to improve and bring their best each race, it’s just that Mercedes and Ferrari and Red Bull and all the others have just improved so much as well…

      The first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have a problem.

      1. Hahaha…

        Nothing beats some of Boullier’s remarks – “You know all cars have oversteer and understeer and lack of grip when they are pushed to the limit… It doesn’t mean the chassis is bad, in fact it’s a good baseline. The drivers say the chassis is good.. so we’ll build on it.. “

      2. McLaren needs Dr. Phil. “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge”.

      3. Sviatoslav (@)
        1st March 2017, 18:31

        Gary Anderson told that McLaren had no front grip in the 3d turn, so Alonso had to lift and coast.

        1. Alex McFarlane
          1st March 2017, 20:56

          To be fair, he did report the same problem for Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes, so still time to work on the front end.

    7. “So far we can live with the current modified oil tanker,” said Honda’s engine head Yusuke Hasegawa. “But obviously through the season we’re always trying to improve the system so if we have a chance we may introduce some more modification. So far I don’t think it’s a problem to run with this one.”

      I’m betting good money on an oil systems failure on one of the Mclaren’s in Melbourne.

      1. Also alonso needs to be replaced for at least one race, as is tradititon

        1. JB?

    8. Gary Anderson said during the coverage today that at turn 3 Alonso just couldn’t get the power down, as if it’s the chassis that’s suffering, appart from the engine which might be good or bad…

      1. @fer-no65 I read that as well and was asking myself if it could be due to limitation on the fix on their oil tank ? It seemed they came to the conclusion that it was not capable of running with high lateral G. I wonder if McLaren has not limited the amount of lateral G to preserve it a bit and allow some more running.

        Is Gary Anderson reliable in his comments ? I really didn’t like the way he was presenting things today. Presenting things as facts rather than his own observations (which is what it was).

        1. @jeanrien
          “Is Gary Anderson reliable in his comments ?”
          I don’t think he is. Most of what he says lacks the insight of other former insiders, and can therefore be safely ignored. That doesn’t mean that what he says is wrong in this case, but I wouldn’t draw any conclusions based on his words alone.

      2. Gary Anderson must be wrong. McLaren have had the best chassis since 2015 but the Honda engine let them down, they admit that they had the best engine in 2014 so that was a bad chassis…..a long the same lines as if I had taken up racing I would be the 10 time F1 champion by now but I didn’t so I’m not…but I could have been.

    9. Another couple of years as a test-team by the looks of it.

    10. There are rumors that McLaren has started conversations with Renault for the supply of engines. Perhaps it is just to put some extra pressure on Honda, but…

      1. It sounds ridiculous that they wouldn’t go to Mercedes first.

    11. I don’t imagine Honda will produce a much inferior PU this year, they’re too big of an engineering entity to perform so badly 3 years in a row. By the end of it; if McLaren languishes at the end of the scoreboard, it’d most likely be the chassis.

    12. “no fundamental problem with power unit” – its just slow and unreliable!

    Comments are closed.