McLaren admit they will be off the pace in F1 until at least May

• Reliability will be an issue in early part of season
• Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton looks good in testing

McLaren have admitted they may not have a competitive car until May – even though the Formula One season starts in Melbourne on March 15. The Woking team have been savaged by reliability problems since being reunited with Honda, and on the penultimate day of testing, Kevin Magnussen was forced to quit after just 39 laps because of an oil leak. Magnussen was driving in place of Fernando Alonso, who is still recovering from his crash at the Circuit de Catalunya a week ago.

Eric Boullier, McLaren’s racing director, was asked how the team would shape up in Australia, and how long it would take before they were fully competitive. He told the Observer: “We won’t be as ready as we would like, but we will do our best. We have covered most of the issues, and most of the systems. The positive is everything is working, but reliability is a concern, clearly. I don’t know how long it’s going to take. I think it’s going to take a few races but at least by Europe we should be ready to be more competitive.”

Before the F1 circus returns to Europe there are races in Australia, Malaysia, China and Bahrain. After years of under-achievement McLaren are pinning their hopes of a revival on a combination of Honda and Alonso – but both had problems in Barcelona and Honda’s motorsport chief Yasuhisa Arai caused raised eyebrows when he said: “The engine is fine.”

He also created bewilderment when he admitted he did not know how many development tokens McLaren had for the year. But here there should be some sympathy for him.

McLaren’s rivals each have 32 development tokens to improve their power units in 2015. But Honda, as a new engine supplier, will have fewer – and that figure can only be calculated when the manufacturers reveal how many they have at the start of the season. Honda will then take the average of the remaining tokens not used by Australia.

Boullier was also asked when he would know whether Alonso would be fit to race in Australia. “Soon,” he said. “I think as soon as the green light is given by the doctors, so it should be next week. It’s not in my hands. But there is nothing wrong.”

Meanwhile, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was the fastest man in testing here on Saturday after a late lap pinched the thunder from Felipe Massa, who was top of the timesheets for most of the day.


Paul Weaver in Barcelona

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes leave it late to better Felipe Massa’s best
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton made sure his team ended the day on top by beating Felipe Massa’s fastest time on the penultimate day of F1 pre-season testing in Barcelona

Paul Weaver in Barcelona

28, Feb, 2015 @6:46 PM

Article image
Pat Symonds lifts the Williams F1 team out of the pits
Williams’ chief technical officer has turned the team around since he arrived two years ago and he has now set his immediate sights on supplanting Ferrari as the main challengers to Mercedes

Giles Richards in Bahrain

18, Apr, 2015 @3:47 PM

Article image
McLaren back in gear after Lewis Hamilton's decision to leave
The Formula One team seems ready to move on and is looking to the future following the driver's move to Mercedes

Giles Richards in Tokyo

06, Oct, 2012 @9:59 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton close to new Mercedes F1 deal to last until end of career
Lewis Hamilton says he is close to signing a new deal with Mercedes that could lead to him remaining with the German team for the rest of his career

Paul Weaver

07, Mar, 2015 @7:55 PM

Article image
McLaren would not cut Lewis Hamilton so much slack, says Ron Dennis
Lewis Hamilton would be less of a party animal if he was still a McLaren driver, according to his mentor, Ron Dennis

Paul Weaver in Abu Dhabi

26, Nov, 2015 @3:39 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton saddened by fall of McLaren before F1 Italian Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton’s preparations for the Italian Grand Prix were marked by a lament over fall of McLaren, his former team, Jenson Button and Monza

Paul Weaver at Monza

04, Sep, 2015 @9:00 PM

Article image
2009: A race odyssey – F1's action-packed year | Maurice Hamilton

Maurice Hamilton: This F1 season has had enough drama and intrigue to make a very decent movie, and there are still seven races to run

Maurice Hamilton

02, Aug, 2009 @12:35 AM

Article image
Review of the 2011 Formula One season | Giles Richards
Giles Richards: Sebastian Vettel found another gear his rivals could not match but the season's best piece of overtaking was by Mark Webber

Giles Richards

26, Nov, 2011 @11:31 AM

Article image
Nico Rosberg edges out Lewis Hamilton for pole position in Brazil
Rosberg took his sixth pole position of the season with flawless lap at Interlagos, while Hamilton, who has never won in Brazil, was just seven-hundredths back from his team-mate

Paul Weaver

14, Nov, 2015 @5:34 PM

Article image
Nico Rosberg takes Russian F1 GP pole to keep pressure on Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg claimed his second pole in succession, forcing team-mate Lewis Hamilton into second position to keep the pressure on the Formula One championship leader

Giles Richards in Sochi

10, Oct, 2015 @2:21 PM