Despite having shifted the majority of their attention towards the development of their 2017 car, McLaren-Honda Racing Director Eric Boullier has confirmed that the Woking based squad have not yet given up on producing updates for the MP4-31, and will continue to make improvements throughout the remainder of the season.
“There will still be some car developments after the shutdown.
“Every development we are doing is obviously applicable to next year’s car, so we focus on this and on next year’s car.”
After struggling for performance since rekindling their partnership with Honda as an engine supplier in 2015, McLaren have finally started to make headway this season, able to bring small upgrades to almost every grand prix in order to boost both chassis and engine. They have even managed to finish in the top ten on nine occasions this year – with their best result so far a fifth place for Fernando Alonso in Monaco, with Jenson Button also coming home ninth in Monte-Carlo, and a sixth place finish for both drivers, at the Russian Grand Prix for the Spaniard, and the Austrian Grand Prix for the Brit – all a far cry from their troubled existence twelve months ago.
In order to continue that momentum for the rest of 2016 and beyond, and cement their bid to return to what they consider their rightful place at the top, the Woking based team will keep on with the chassis and power unit updates, whilst also concentrating on 2017.
Power deficiency is still the McLaren F1 Team’s biggest weakness, but Honda F1 engine chief Yusuke Hasegawa, is adamant they will keep pushing to ensure progression in this area.
“We will not give up with this year, but we have to start work on 2017, so when we have to change our resources to 2017 is a very difficult decision.”
So far this season, the McLaren boys have managed to come away with some good results at tracks that would not necessarily suit the MP4-31, and the next round in Belgium is another such venue. Having a strong pedigree at the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, claiming victory there on fourteen previous occasions, McLaren will be hoping they can again achieve another top end performance and bring both cars home in the points.
With a number of development tokens still at their disposal, the opportunity of achieving even stronger results during the second half of the season, is looking like a real possibility.