F1 Strategy Group to consider helping Honda


Could the F1 Strategy Group come to McLaren Honda's aid? Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Talks to assist Honda with their reliability and performance problems this season are set to take place at the upcoming F1 Strategy Group meeting.

Last year, F1’s car manufacturers agreed to an arrangement that would see the current turbo hybrid rules remain in place until 2020. As part of that agreement, a contingency plan was drafted to ensure that all current engines had relative parity in terms of performance.

The FIA agreed that it would monitor the output of each power unit after the first three rounds of the 2017 season, and if a deficit of more than 0.3 seconds, on a lap around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was found, the Strategy Group would be asked to step in, as the FIA’s engine chief Fabrice Lom explained last year.

“We check every car of every lap of the first three races, we take the best of each power unit for each race, and then we do the average. That should give a power unit index of performance for each power unit manufacturer.

“Then we have a translation of this index for the Barcelona track, and this is what we will do. We transform this index to lap time and check the difference in lap time to the Barcelona track.”

The McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team are clearly down on power compared to their rivals, as was demonstrated at the recent Bahrain Grand Prix, when driver Fernando Alonso relayed over team radio that other drivers were able to come from 300 or 400 metres back to overtake him on the straight.

It is because of such instances, and the fact that despite positive vibes from the Woking camp, the Japanese manufacturer have been unable to overcome their PU problems, that discussions to approve a plan for Honda to be allowed  some form of assistance, will take place at the Strategy Group meeting on Monday.

McLaren Honda Racing Director Eric Boullier advised that he will broach the subject along with the FIA, but the Frenchman does not hold out much hope of the other manufacturers or teams, in effect their rivals, agreeing to such an idea, as he explained to motorsport.com.

“It is something that we have to raise, we are in a position today where I am not sure everyone wants us to get more performance from the power unit, but I think it will be fairer for F1 to have a level playing field.

“I am not saying helping someone to beat the best power unit, but to be within this 0.3 seconds ballpark of performance.

“I think it will fairer and good for F1. It will be more attractive for other car and engine manufacturers to join F1, and for the fans, it will be much better as you will have closer racing on track.

“So it would tick all the boxes: except we are in a competitive world and I know a lot of people do not want us to deliver on that part.”

It will certainly be interesting to see how these talks develop and whether or not anything actually comes of them.