MAY 2, 2017

Honda engine has all disadvantages says Boullier

It is dark days at McLaren, with boss Eric Boullier insisting that Honda has to already get to work on its engine for 2018.

It is dark days at McLaren, with boss Eric Boullier insisting that Honda has to already get to work on its engine for 2018.

But the Frenchman said Fernando Alonso not even getting to the grid in Russia with the 2017 power unit is "not acceptable".

Alonso, however, says he was not surprised.

"We have had a lot of problems from the winter tests, and now they continue in the races. And they will continue until there is a fundamental change," said the Spaniard.

Boss Boullier said the problem is exacerbated by the technological situation in F1.

"Formula one at the moment has a downside," he told Speed Week. "The gaps between teams has increased even more.

"An engine that is more powerful is also more efficient, with better consumption and stability. The more powerful engines have all the advantages, and our engine combines all of the disadvantages," Boullier added.

Now, McLaren is simply hoping for an improvement at the forthcoming Spanish grand prix.

"In principle yes," Boullier confirmed. "I hope so."

But he issued a terse "no comment" when asked if rival Mercedes will actively help Honda to catch up.

However, Boullier did admit that Honda is already starting to think about 2018.

"2017 is still under development," he said, "and the rest is the responsibility of Honda. But Honda must start now.

"Mercedes, for example, already has an engine that will run in 2018."

Boullier also confirmed that he will be trackside at Indianapolis in the coming weeks to watch Alonso prepare for the Indy 500.

"I cannot be at the testing this week," he said. "But I will go with Fernando after the race in Barcelona and look at the first two days.

"As a racing enthusiast I am thrilled, as I have never been to Indianapolis for the race."

Another development is that Sauber will become the first Honda customer next year, even though ousted McLaren supremo Ron Dennis always vetoed that sort of deal.

"We decided together," Boullier said.

"We did what we had to do. Ron had a very definite and clear position as he didn't want any distraction.

"But there was a moral agreement between Honda, the FIA and FOM and we knew that one day Honda had to look at other teams at the right time. But we got the reassurance that we had to get, so why not?" he added.

"For Sauber it is good, because it gives them access to a factory engine like Renault and Red Bull, for example."