For McLaren-Honda, the rumours are running as thick and fast as the expectations of a much better campaign for the famous Anglo-Japanese collaboration. 2015 was a horror reunion for the old partners, but recent speculation suggested Honda has found a staggering 200 horse power over the winter.
Another rumour, however, is that the step forward has come at a cost. Auto Hebdo, a specialist French outlet, claims Honda's 2016 power unit has proved unreliable on the test benches so far. "According to our information, Honda is already preparing a fleet of replacement engines, as four per driver will not be enough," it said.
Marca, a Spanish sports newspaper that closely follows the career of Fernando Alonso, revealed that McLaren's 2016 car will be launched online at about midday on February 21. The following day, it will hit the track at Barcelona.
Hopes will be high, but team boss Eric Boullier is confident the exactly two years he has spent at McLaren is now ready to show its results. "It (the racing team) was oversized and difficult to manage," the Frenchman is quoted as saying by Marca.
Also difficult to manage, Boullier admits, are Alonso and fellow champion teammate Jenson Button. "They, like all other champions, think only about winning," he said. "Until they have what they want they will not stop pressuring the team. But if you know how to manage expectations and calmly explain how things are moving, then you earn their trust," said Boullier.
He said although the results in 2015 were bad, he is happy that the new McLaren structure is at least now working efficiently. "Momentum leads to success," said Boullier. "You have to remember that when Red Bull bought Jaguar, it took five years to structure everything and become efficient. We are also in an ultra-competitive environment, fighting with Mercedes and Ferrari, and their level and quality is very high," the Frenchman said. (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing