Missing out on preseason mileage due to Honda power unit issues in the past felt like “a big, painful hit” for McLaren, according to the team’s aero chief Peter Prodromou.
McLaren struggled for significant mileage in all three years of its Honda partnership, with last season in particular marred by a number of power unit issues that limited running. With new regulations also coming into force in 2017, Prodromou believes the team did well to develop its car despite suffering so many reliability problems.
“It’s really difficult to quantify what that hit was in terms of lap time and development of the car,” Prodromou said. “It certainly felt at the time it was a big, painful hit for us. I think remarkably we still managed to extract, from our testing and from our Friday running in grands prix events, the answers that we were looking for going into the weekend, assuming we were going to be doing a certain amount of mileage.
“The fact that we didn’t, somehow, we managed to come out of the weekend feeling that we got the answers we were looking for anyway. I’m sure it must have counted for something. For sure the more running that you do, the more potential that you have to learn and develop the car.”
And before any running has even taken place, chief engineering officer Matt Morris believes McLaren is in a stronger position than in previous years.
“It’s always nice to be a little bit further ahead than wherever you are, but in terms of all the sign-off of the car, running it on the back of a Renault engine, we should be going into winter testing in a couple of weeks in as good a state as we can be,” Morris said.
“Even if we changed the engine earlier, we could have done a lot of things earlier, we try and push it as late as possible anyway, things like the chassis and gearbox layout, it coincided with the last minute, ‘we really need to release the chassis now, Eric, Zak, can you tell me which engine we’re putting in?’ It was that sort of decision. Luckily they sorted that one just in time.
“There were few weeks where it was a bit tight, but since then we’ve sort of been on a normal program, really. It’s not like we’ve been playing catch up. We were playing catch up for two weeks to get back onto the normal program. Some of the things that we’ve been doing, in particular with Renault, over the last few months, I think we’ll be better prepared for that first day in Barcelona than maybe we have been in the past with Honda.”