The McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team have dismissed rumours that the MCL32 has handling issues, and have labelled such reports as part of the “fake news” phenomenon currently gripping the world.
Experts positioned at different turns of the track at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona where pre-season testing is currently taking place, commented that drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were struggling to get on the throttle properly through corners, because of a lack of overall grip, stating that the weak chassis was the cause of this.
When speaking to motorsport.com recently, McLaren Team Boss Eric Boullier brushed such comments aside, saying that they have received good feedback from their drivers in this respect, and it was in fact the Honda engine design that was causing those issues.
“Well, strangely, the car reacts well to any changes that we have asked. The drivers on that point are quite happy.
“I read some comments [about handling difficulties in Turns 1/2/3] and they are a bit like Trump ‘fake news’ – because it is not only chassis.
“Remember these engines are hybrid engines, which means when you are very early back on throttle you have electrical power which is on/off, and then you have a turbo as well at the back – so depending on your driveability there could also be some issues.
“We had some driveability issues, which means when you are back on the power you lose the back of the car so the car looks nervous, but there is nothing wrong.
“Driveability issues, old tyres, let’s say, warming up the tyres is not good enough. But still the car spec here is launch spec, we do try little bits, but we will not run the full spec. The full spec will be run in Australia.”
With Honda engine reliability causing McLaren to have a disastrous test session so far, having lost two days to failures last week, and valuable track time for another problem on Monday, it has been difficult for the Woking based squad to fully evaluate where they are at ahead of the new season.
The engine issues have also seen the team resort to running in low-power engine modes, making it even more problemous to get a complete understanding of the data.
“If you are not running fast enough, you do not put the right energy into the tyres, you don’t put the right energy in the brakes of the car, and your ride height targets are different.
“There are a lot of consequences to run 15km/h or 18km/h slower in a straightline. But still, we make the most of the data we can gather just by running the car, and that is what we want to see.
“This is to make sure that the correlation with the simulation or back in Woking is good, which then allows us to keep the same process to design and develop the car. And then we can make predictions for the future.
“But it would be easier if we had the same speed as the others, because then you have a better understanding on some different factors.”
McLaren are adamant they will be able to resolve all the current issues before the new season gets underway, but they are fast running out of time, and are already on the back foot.