McLaren has seen the benefits of working with a more experienced power unit partner in Renault compared to Honda, according to chief engineering officer Matt Morris.
After three difficult years as works partner with Honda, McLaren took the decision to terminate its contract early and switch to become a Renault customer from 2018 onward. During preparations for the start of pre-season testing in a little over a fortnight’s time, Morris says Renault’s greater experience – having been an F1 engine supplier to Red Bull for the past 11 years – has been obvious over the winter.
“I think the big difference is speaking with all the guys at Renault they’ve inherently got a lot more experience,” Morris said. “Those guys that are on the ground have been doing it a lot longer than the guys at Honda, and that’s just a fact. I think that’s what’s allowed us to get the packaging done so quickly.
“We had a big list of questions. ‘Right, we’ve got two weeks to do this, we need all this information within the next 24 hours.’ All that information came back because Renault is just used to customer teams turning up and wanting the same sort of information. I think that’s probably the biggest difference at the moment, it’s just their experience.
“The same is true in their factory in Viry. It’s just more mature than Honda. It might not have as many fancy dynos or whatever but they’ve just got more experience. We’re over there at the moment doing some work on the dyno with them and again that’s just been seamless. Taking our gearbox and running it on the back of the engine has been a really easy and obviously useful process.”
Having confirmed its switch to Renault late last season – a decision McLaren says took two weeks to react to – chassis chief technical officer Tim Goss admits there are areas the team would like changes made concerning the power unit in future.
Asked if there were specific requests McLaren would have made of Renault given more time, Goss replied: “Yeah for sure, and they’re listening.
“We have made some changes, it’s just that in that short space of time when we were trying to get the engine into the car there wasn’t really the time to reconfigure too many things. But for sure it is a different engine with a different layout and we needed to rethink the way we did some things. Going into 2019 we’re already in dialogue with Renault – Viry – to see what they can accommodate.”