While hearing the sound of the F1 engine it will run in 2015 and beyond is a positive sign, McLaren knows that there is a long way to go until its renewed relationship with Honda bears fruit.
The Japanese giant released audio of the new V6 turbo last week [ see separate story
], despite there still being some 16 months to its anticipated race debut, but McLaren MD Jonathan Neale admitted that the hardest part of the process is still to come, particularly as the Woking team is still going through the same process of development with 2014 engine partner Mercedes.
“While we have something that's running, we're under no illusion how much work we have to do together to be able to develop a competitive power unit in terms of the engine, the ERS system, the battery technology, and all of the systems that go round that,” he told a media phone-in on Tuesday [22 October], “For McLaren to do it twice in two years is a fairly ambitious project, [and] we're really excited about that, [but] at this time of year - with only some frightening number of weeks to go to the end of this year - all hands at the moment are focused on working with Mercedes and the integration of that engine, and the development of our fuel and lube programme with Exxon Mobil, so that we're able to put a high performance package - and a reliable one - on the deck for the start of next year.”
Honda will be in charge of the development, manufacture and supply of the new engine - including the associated energy recovery systems - while McLaren will look after the development and manufacture of the chassis, as well as the management of the race team having concluded a multi-year technology partnership in May of this year.
“It's always good when you hear a new engine fire up, it's a great moment for the whole organisation, and a moment of satisfaction for everybody,” he noted, “Honda has moved heaven and earth to be able to get the first engine built, constructed and running but it's a bit like - to use the metaphor of pregnancy - focusing on the first nine months and then realising that it's only then that the hard work starts...”
McLaren heads to India this week still looking for its first podium finish after 15 rounds of the 19-round 2013 season.