11 April 2014
Boullier: McLaren F1 can catch Mercedes
Eric Boullier says there are a lot of areas that McLaren can work on and improve and he believes the gap to Mercedes is not insurmountable
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier is confident Mercedes can be caught this season, despite the dominant performance shown by the Silver Arrows in Bahrain last weekend.
Despite a late safety car period, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg pulled away at an alarming rate, and eventually finished more 20 seconds up on Force India's Sergio Perez, who was third. It was the second 1-2 of the season for Mercedes and the squad's third win in as many races.
“It is true that the gap is huge now,” Boullier said during in a McLaren phone-in this week, which included Crash.net. “But a one-second gap is catchable.”
“I know a lot of areas that we can work on and improve, so I think it is definitely possible to catch up,” he underlined.
Pressed on if he agrees with veteran driver Jenson Button, that McLaren is now the second best team, Boullier added: “I believe that if you look at the performance graph from Jenson from Bahrain, we had just about the potential to finish in front of the Force Indias. I do agree with Jenson then that we could be the second-fastest team after Mercedes, so the 'best of the rest' as they say.
"But it is very, very tight with everybody.”
“We are working aggressively now to make sure we can catch up with Mercedes. We don't know if we will have caught them by the European races, but we will definitely try to close the gap as soon as possible,” he vowed.
“Obviously last year was a bit of a trauma here. Everybody is more than eager to get back to where we should be, but to do that we have to be careful not do it in a rush. We have to do it in a rationale mode. I think it is the perfect occasion to just look at ourselves and make sure we can fine tune our organisation and bring things back to how it should be. We will do that,” he continued.
Boullier also noted that things will obviously vary from circuit to circuit: “I think every track now will favour one machine or another. Obviously somewhere like Monaco is an interesting example - it is a very high downforce circuit. You need a good driveable car, a well balanced car there. Obviously there are low downforce tracks too, like Monza. That will be another story.
"I think every track can ultimately change the pecking order. [But as of] today, I think low downforce tracks will favour us or help us,” he explained.
Returning to Bahrain, and the clutch problems that sidelined both Button and Kevin Magnussen, Boullier noted that won't be a concern in China next weekend: “It [the clutch problems] was a one-off and it has already been fixed,” he confirmed.
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