McLaren Honda seem to have finally grasped the reality of the situation with regard to the MCL32. Their pre-season test was marred by a number of reliability problems as well as the usage of a number of engines. Across eight days of testing, the Woking squad has only managed to bank 425 laps, the lowest tally of laps of all the teams. Many have questioned about the pace of the McLaren Honda because of its failure to impress on the track. Honda’s Chief Yusuke Hasegawa has admitted that the other teams have made a bigger step this season. “Of course we also improved our engine performance level; however, it looks like the PU performance improvement of the others is better and higher than us. We may even be further back, so that is very disappointing,” said Hasegawa.”From the settings or a setting point of view we may have some things we can do in these two weeks. In the next two weeks we will try to find some ways of tuning the engine, and it can have better performance, definitely.”
Meanwhile, the drivers are beginning to feel the pressure from being so far behind their rivals. With Manor no longer on the grid, McLaren Honda have nowhere to hide and could be in danger of taking over their role as the backmarker team. McLaren Honda rookie Stoffel Vandoorne says that they are struggling to keeping their frustrations and disappointment under control. While his teammate Fernando Alonso has been venting his anger and impatience, Vandoorne has been less vocal about his feelings. “We are McLaren, one of the best teams that has already solved tough situations in the past. Fernando and I talk a lot and we agree that we cannot be frustrated, we have to work together to go forward and improve.” said the Belgian. “I’m still very happy that I can drive an F1 car. It’s only my first full season. Ok, we currently have some problems, but it hasn’t affected my confidence in any way”.
Meanwhile, an outspoken Fernando Alonso has said that he will not retire until he is given a competitive car. “We have only one problem which is the power unit,” added Alonso. “ There is no reliability and there is no power. We are 30 kilometres (per hour) down on the straight. ” McLaren’s Racing director Eric Boullier said on Wednesday that the engineers back at Honda are under a lot of pressure to find a solution to their reliability issues. “I feel like i am the fastest driver out there, so I just need an engine that can run as fast as the others on the straight.” said Alonso. McLaren’s executive director Zak Brown has dismissed claims that the McLaren-Honda relationship could soon end. “We have a long-term contract,” he said “We have won a lot of championships with them, they have the right people, we have the right people, so we are going to work through it together.”