Cape Town - McLaren's
long-term partnership with Honda is under threat as the Woking team
could severe their relationship at the end of this season using a break
Full of optimism at the launch of the McLaren-Honda's MCL32, Fernando
Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne's aspirations have seemingly ground to a
halt after a wretched pre-season.
Engine changes, closing in on double figures, coupled with more
breakdowns than any other team meant McLaren covered the least number of
laps in this year's pre-season testing.
The Woking team managed just 425 laps, down on their 710 from 2016,
and less than half of what Mercedes, at 1096 laps, achieved this year.
Reliability, though, is not the only concern.
The Honda engine is also lacking in power with only Sauber, who are running a 2016 engine, slower in testing.
"I don't think we are too far back with the chassis, we have only one
problem which is the power unit," was Alonso's assessment.
"There is no
reliability and there is no power. We are 30km/h down on the straight."
McLaren's pre-season form had led to speculation that they could severe ties with Honda with the DailyMail reporting that it could happen at the end of this season.
"McLaren have a long-term partnership with Honda, until 2024, but it
is understood there are break clauses on both sides," reads the report.
"If McLaren wish to cut free, they could do so at the end of the year.
"Similarly, if Honda feel their problems are causing more loss of
face than they can endure, they too could sever ties. That doomsday
scenario is one both partners want to avoid, with each publicly
committing themselves to one another."
Racing director Eric Boullier believes part of the problem with Honda is that they lack a F1 culture.
He explained: "They are trying to build a competitive power unit, but they do not have a Formula One culture.
"They are a big, successful company and they have their own ways of
doing things. To devise a power unit in Japan is a challenge. That is
why Mercedes decided to make theirs in England.
"We need a greater transfer of knowledge. They need to take on board
the Formula One culture and to integrate that at all levels. You need to
be fast in developing, as fast as F1 moves. Process, procurement, both
need to be looked at."
Meanwhile, according to Sky Sports, the problem with the
Honda unit stems from 'unexpected vibrations' from the engine that are
causing the power unit to 'effectively shake itself into breaking down'.
"What's the issue with the engine? As far as I can glean, the issue
is vibrations and so many vibrations that it is affecting the electrics
and things are popping out left, right and centre," explained Sky F1's