As the McLaren F1 team prepares for the launch and first test of its newly monikered MCL32, engine partner Honda has raised concerns about the “very high risk” attached to their new engine approach. Speaking to Autosport, Honda chief Yusuke Hasegawa explained the engine will follow a completely new concept for 2017 with a focus on making step-change improvements to the architecture and layout of the internal combustion engine (ICE). Both Hasegawa and McLaren technical boss, Tim Goss, believe these modifications are vital to giving McLaren a much needed performance boost. But they cannot be certain these expected performance gains will be achieved this season.
McLaren has struggled with competitiveness since rekindling its partnership with Honda in 2015, often languishing near the back of the field due to lack of horsepower. However, towards the end of 2016, there were optimistic signs that things were finally on the up. Hasegawa revealed Honda and McLaren learned a great deal during the past two seasons which has led them down this more audacious route.
But as the old adage says, there’s no reward without risk and Hasegawa is concerned whether Honda can strike the right balance between focusing on ICE improvements alongside other crucial elements of engine development. He explains, “the concept is completely different. It’s very high risk, we don’t know a lot of things about that new concept. We still have to do some tests and there will be some trial and error. I hope we have understood the direction and the elements to focus on.”
Nerves will certainly be jangling at the first test in Barcelona on 27th February when all the teams take to the track for the first time with their new regulation cars. McLaren are keen to keep expectations very much in check. Just yesterday, McLaren-Honda Executive Director, Zak Brown, urged the utmost caution by stating McLaren would not win any races this year.
Wonder if anyone has told Fernando!
Photo credit: f1.co.uk