McLaren-Honda Formula 1 Team racing director, Eric Boullier has admitted that the 2017 Formula 1 season has been “an incredibly challenging season” for the Woking based team, but alluded “to a new and exciting era for us all in the near future.”
Speaking after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which marked the end of the McLaren-Honda alliance after three seasons of under-performance and hundreds of places of grid penalties, Boullier said: “Today was a hard-fought battle for the whole team to get us both to the end of the race and the end of the season.
“Our drivers did a phenomenal job on a circuit where it’s notoriously difficult to overtake, and to finish with a couple of points as a net result of all our efforts feels more than thoroughly well-deserved.”
Drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne finished ninth and 12th respectively, with both having contrasting races.
Boullier explained that: “He, (Alonso) and his mechanics did an excellent job to help him close the gap to Felipe Massa in his pit-stop and then ultimately get the job done on track with a great move past him along the back straight,” while Vandoorne was plagued with “with a serious handling issue from the start of the race, and was suffering from a huge loss of downforce which made his car all but undriveable.”
Praising the Belgian rookie driver for his “sterling performance not only to keep the chasing pack of five cars behind him for the duration of the race, but bring the car home in one piece.”
Boullier thanks Honda
Despite the well-documented troubles Honda has suffered since it returned to F1, Boullier, on behalf of all McLaren employees, offered “sincere thanks to Honda for working so hard alongside us to constantly strive to learn, develop and improve.
He continued: “we end our partnership in Abu Dhabi with a stronger relationship than ever and plenty of healthy respect.
“There have been highs and lows over the past three years, but we have no regrets, and every member of the entire McLaren Honda team wishes each other well for the next chapter in our respective histories.”
From next season, McLaren will switch to Renault power units, while Honda will form an alliance with Scuderia Toro Rosso.