Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017

Honda problems compromising chassis work – McLaren

2017 F1 season

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McLaren team principal Eric Boullier admitted the ongoing problems with their Honda power unit is hindering the work on the team’s chassis.

“It does affect your development understanding, at least,” Boullier said at the Circuit de Catalunya.

“If you are running not fast enough you don’t put the right energy in the tyres, you don’t put the right energy in the brakes or in the car. Your ride height targets are different so there is a lot of consequences to run 15 or 18 kilometres [per hour] slower in a straight line.”

Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017
Testing day five in pictures
“But still we can make most of the development, let’s say most of the data we can gather just by running the car. And obviously that’s what we want to see. And again this is just to make sure the correlation with the simulation back in Woking is good. We keep the same process and the same way to design and develop the car and then we can make predictions for the future.”

“But it would be easier, yes, if we had the same speed as the others because then you have a better understanding and some different factors.”

McLaren’s MCL32 has covered 1,300km in testing so far which is the least of any team bar Toro Rosso.

“Any laps you don’t do is a loss when you have only eight days,” Boullier admitted. “There is a minimum to reach which for us is an understanding of the car and correlation. That’s the minimum we need from us, McLaren. And then we can operate from this.”

“We have enough experience and we know what we can do there. But ideally you want more mileage because the closer you go to the limit the better it is to have better prediction or simulation.”

Boullier said the team can tell “the car reacts well to any changes” and the drivers are “quite happy” with that.

But he also described how problems with the engine can make the chassis appear to be less well-balanced.

“It’s not only chassis, remember these are hybrid engines which means very early back on throttle you have electrical power which is on/off,” he said. “And then you have a turbo as well on the back.”

“So depending on your drive-ability you may have also some issues. We have some drive-ability issues which means that when you come back on power you lose the back of the car so the car looks nervous but there is nothing wrong except a drive-ability issue.”

“Or tyres, let’s say, warming up the tyres is not good enough. But still the car spec we have here is a car launch spec. We do try different bits but we will not run the full spec, the full spec will be run in Australia.”

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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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  • 7 comments on “Honda problems compromising chassis work – McLaren”

    1. You expect teething troubles with a new engine …but this is the 3rd year of engine problems, with a redesign and still all is not well……..I am praying that come the first race and they turn it up and its on a par with the rest and is reliable….
      There cannot be many brave faces left for Eric to put on

      1. @jop452 Totally agree. I’m honestly afraid that McLaren will have a worse season than 2016 and while it’ll probably not be as bad as 2015 in terms of reliability and performance, I think they’ll be fighting with Renault for the place above Sauber.

    2. Driveability issues…. few, after trackside reports I thought McLaren had not produced a top 3 chassis like they did last year. I knew that could not be true thank goodness it seems Honda are to blame for that as well.

    3. Yeah, can’t really blame Mclaren for the whole performance deficit here. They may lack the levels of top 3 theams(Merc, Ferrari & RBR) but not this worse. Three years in a row isn’t excusable for a massive company like Honda. I wonder if Honda is taking F1’s competitive environment and the urgency of the situation seriously enough.

      If you perform badly year after years, people will throw uncomfortable questions.

    4. There’s not much you can do with an unreliable engine that is a 100hp down on it’s rivals and lacks peak power. Mclaren need to reduce downforce and drag on the car to make up for the loss of straight line speed and acceleration, which will make them slow in corners and slow on exits. Also, the fact that they haven’t done enough running will hamper their aero progress early on. How will they even know what parts of the chassis work if they cannot get the car to run at full speed, which generates the correct amount of airflow over the parts?

      I’m not saying Mclaren has built the greatest chassis on the grid, but they will never fully understand, improvise or perfect their work unless they have an engine that can run at full throttle for more than 3 laps at a time.

    5. Honda is an embarrassment in F1 so far.

    6. Mclaren are taking the Red Bull approach to forcing their engine partner to improve!

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