Eric Boullier has accepted that the Australian Grand Prix may be a step too far for McLaren, after a disastrous pre-season.
The new orange livery did little to lift hopes at the Woking team. They managed just 424 laps over the eight days of testing, in comparison to Mercedes’ 1906. Reliability was the main issue for McLaren, with Alonso saying the Honda engine has ‘no reliability and no power’.
Boullier was clearly unsure in a recent interview with a Spanish newspaper (AS), saying ‘Oh, I hope so, but I don’t know’ in reply to a question about whether they would finish Australia. He continued, saying “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.”
He claimed that the high targets set for McLaren will probably not be reached. Furthermore, he seemed to blame the Honda engine when he said the car had “improve[d] 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.” however “I don’t know if the Honda engine will be able to compete with (rival manufacturers) Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault”.
The only way for the package to improve, Boullier said, was to “keep working hard” but expressed his frustration at the timing of these fixes. “The problem is the timing. We should be fixing these in January, not in March.”.
Whether or not McLaren will be able to finish the Australian Grand Prix, the morale around the camp must be very low and it will be intriguing to see whether Honda can improve their engine enough to challenge the main contenders.
Featured image: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/128406