Australian Grand Prix – McLaren are hoping to eliminate their pre-season testing reliability woes in time for the season-opener in Melbourne.
The McLaren-Honda partnership came under scrutiny throughout pre-season testing in Barcelona, with the team facing numerous power unit issues across the eight test days.
The performance and lack of running prompted scathing opinions from Fernando Alonso and even triggered rumours of an early termination of the McLaren-Honda partnership.
With little time between the end of testing and the Australian Grand Prix, McLaren’s team principal Eric Boullier conceded that the team can expect a “difficult” opening race weekend.
“It’s no secret we at McLaren-Honda had a more difficult two weeks of testing than we’d anticipated, and we’ve been working together closely since returning from Barcelona to address the issues we’ve faced in time for the first race of the season,” said Boullier.
“We will approach this season race-by-race – for us Australia will be the benchmark by which we can understand where we are in relation to the rest of the field, and what we need to do to tackle the coming Grands Prix.
“We won’t make any promises or predictions about our performance or results, but McLaren and Honda will continue to worth together in partnership and maximise everything we have in our package.”
Boullier also refrained from predicting the pecking order heading into the new season.
“As a team, we’re very excited to be going racing again, but aware of the unknowns that face us as the lights go out to start a new era of Formula 1.
“We don’t yet know where the formbook lies, so until we hit the track on Friday morning it’s impossible to predict how the weekend will unfold.
“It’ll be interesting for us all to see the pecking order emerge as each session goes by, as well as where our own strengths and weaknesses lie, and we’re prepared for a challenging weekend ahead.”
Fernando Alonso added that the primary focus was to solve the reliability issues from pre-season testing.
“After a difficult two weeks of testing we’re prepared to face a difficult weekend in Melbourne,” admitted Alonso.
“We’ll do our best with what we have and there’s a lot of hard work and collaboration happening within the team, but the lack of time before the first race means you have fewer options for big changes.
“The first step will be to work on reliability before we can make any assumptions or predictions about performance, and we will try to enjoy the weekend as much as we can.”