McLaren is preparing itself to still have some reliability issues with the Renault power unit but is willing to accept them in return for performance.
After three years of struggle with Honda – as the Japanese manufacturer lacked both power and reliability for the majority of that time – McLaren will partner with Renault in 2018 and is targeting podiums this coming year. With Renault having suffered a number of reliability problems in 2017, notably toward the end of the season, McLaren executive director Zak Brown is unconcerned by those weaknesses because of the trade-off with performance that is being made.
“I think we’ve got lots of concerns going into every racing season, not just power unit,” Brown (pictured with Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul) told the Marshall Pruett podcast. “Ultimately we’re very confident. They’ve got the power, they’ve demonstrated that they’ve got the power. They’ve had some reliability issues when they’ve turned the power on. You saw that in Mexico, someone said to me that they blew up four engines – yeah, but they did dominate the race.
“We want to get back to the front of the field. We know motor racing – performance can cause some reliability issues. We think they’re on top of it, they think they’re on top of it and they think they have identified what the issues were. I’m sure we’ll have an engine issue at some point during this year, but that’s racing. We just hope not to have too many and we hope we have them at the front of the field.
“That would be a big improvement. We’ve got to rebound now so we need to set expectations; we’re not going to go back to challenge for the championship. And a Formula 1 team is more than just the power unit.
“So, no more concerns than I think anyone would have at any race course at the start of any season of any unknowns, but they know what they’re doing. They’ve won six championships in the last 13 years, so they’re very close.”