Following a disappointing start to 2017, Honda is parting ways with consultant Gilles Simon in an attempt to get their efforts back on track.
Honda’s return to the sport as an engine provider has been far from a fairy tale. Despite a glimmer of hope towards the latter half of last year, where a slight improvement in reliability and performance was witnessed, their efforts over the winter break appear to have been futile; McLaren Honda Formula One Team used five engines over four days at the first pre-season testing.
Simon made a name for himself at Ferrari during Michael Schumacher’s dominant years, and later worked at the FIA and P.U.R.E before joining Honda in 2013.
The Japanese supplier was reluctant to recruit too many outside consultant so Simon’s appointment was deemed crucial in ensuring fast results. But now following a series of disappointments, and apparent disagreements over which direction the engine project should take, Honda has confirmed that they and Simon are parting ways.
“It is true that we are ending the contract with him sometime this year, under each other’s agreement,” they said.
“However, as it is a contract issue between him and Honda, we do not disclose further details.
“Honda appreciate very much his great support and contribution to our fourth era Formula 1 project.”
Simon will serve a six-month period of gardening leave before contemplating a return to the paddock.
The announcement precedes a pivotal week for the company as they attempt to rectify the poor experience at last week’s testing in Barcelona. McLaren’s patience is rumoured to be wearing thin, with good reason, and with the Melbourne-spec engine scheduled to be run this week it is vital that Honda deliver on their promise of better results.
But worryingly the cause of last week’s engine failure is still unknown.
“It is still under investigation but it [work] is also proceeding day by day. We need some more runs in the test, with some changes in the power unit, to clarify the root cause,” Honda added.