Eric Boullier insists McLaren is not seeking an alternative to its current works arrangement with Honda. Deep into the first McLaren-Honda season, the Spanish daily El Mundo summarised the Woking team's predicament with the headline "No speed, no results, no sponsors".
Some reports say the Honda power unit is 200hp down, while the Japanese carmaker refuses to sack Yasuhisa Arai, who insists that engineers will not be hired from outside the company. An insider told Auto Motor und Sport: "If you don't hire from outside, you don't get the solutions to problems others have already solved. You do it all yourself from the beginning. And that takes time," the insider added.
Time, however, is something a F1 team does not have when sponsors are assessing form every two weeks and the other major chunk of annual income is based on results. Red Bull, for instance, has decided to split with Renault after two years with the French marque's under-powered turbo V6, notwithstanding the collaboration's huge success in the former normally-aspirated era.
But Boullier said the same thoughts are not going through the heads of McLaren's upper management. "No. It is up to us to put the right pressure on Honda," he said. "If you want to beat Mercedes you have to be a works team," the Frenchman told CNN. "We believe that Honda is the only serious engine manufacturer who can allow us to achieve that. We have a works team status. We have to go through some pain currently but we will be champions again with Honda one day."
So, instead, all efforts are being put into solving the current problems, with work on the 2016 car already well advanced. "We are in a smooth transition now between this and next year's car," said Boullier. "The things you can't see behind the scenes is that the team has changed drastically in the last 15 months."
"The atmosphere in the team is good. The correlation from design and manufacture to the track in terms of bringing performance is very, very good. The people in the team are committed," he insisted. (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing