AUGUST 23, 2015
Arai denies saying Honda would match Ferrari
For McLaren and Honda, the 2015 season has gone from bad to worse.
Before Spa-Francorchamps, Honda's Yasuhisa Arai promised that an engine upgrade for Belgium would bring the 'power unit' in line with Ferrari's.
But at Spa, the reality has been perhaps McLaren-Honda's worst performance of the entire season, and penalties totalling a ludicrous 100-plus grid demotion that Fernando Alonso jokingly dubbed a "world record".
"We should get a cake," said the Spaniard.
Jenson Button said his qualifying lap was as good as an effort some years ago that resulted in pole, but actually McLaren is quicker only than the Manors this weekend.
"I thought the lap was good and then I was told P17 and a second behind the car in front," said the 2009 world champion, "which was a massive surprise. I didn't expect to be that far off."
As for what he and Alonso can do on Sunday, Button shrugged: "I don't know.
"We will just be racing each other and, if we get away from the Manors, I think the next cars we see will be someone lapping us."
So what about Arai's promise of a Ferrari-matching engine for Belgium? One source in the Spanish press said the Japanese's quotes are now increasingly greeted with scepticism and ridicule.
Arai commented: "I didn't say that about (matching) Ferrari.
"The updates we have here are not as effective as we hoped because it is not an easy circuit. We have also had not much time in the practice sessions to evaluate them.
"They have done quite well but unfortunately it is not working quite so well here. We need more time," he insisted.
Team boss Eric Boullier, meanwhile, played down any suggestion that, for a grandee outfit, McLaren's dire situation cannot go on for much longer.
"We have not lost patience with Honda and we are happy to have them as partners," the Frenchman insisted.
"Of course, we are not where we would like to be, but we are working hard to change that."
Boullier told Germany's Welt newspaper: "Perhaps it would have been better to wait a year and only enter with an advanced Honda engine.
"But Ron Dennis and I love the challenge, and eventually the team and our two drivers will have really deserved the results."