21 December 2014
F1: We have to believe that we can win - Boullier
Racing director Eric Boullier stops short of predicting vicotry in Melbourne, but insists that McLaren-Honda has to think of itself as a winner despite its testing problems.
While stopping short of repeating team boss Ron Dennis' claim that McLaren could win on its debut with the new Honda F1 engine in Australia next season, racing director Eric Boullier insists that the team has to imagine victory is possible.
Coming off another winless season in its final campaign with Mercedes power, McLaren suffered a nightmare first test with the all new Honda V6 in Abu Dhabi, propping up the timesheets with hardly a flying lap to its name. Despite that, Dennis has said that the renewed partnership has to dominate F1 and, buoyed by a line-up comprising Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, sees no reason why it cannot achieve its aim in season one.
“I'll leave it to speculative people [to predict victory],” he smiled, “but the only important thing, from my world, is to have [everyone] working here to have the right mindset. This means doing more than they can to believe we could win the first race. That means we will have done everything and will not have left any rocks unturned. That's the proper mindset and, with Fernando and Jenson back, they will make sure we don't leave any rocks unturned!”
“I think of McLaren-Honda as one team. That is very important and I think two world champions in the car is obviously a very strong asset - and the best [angle] for me if anyone is looking for a positive story. Having convinced Fernando to join us, to stop the last two years of contract at Ferrari, means a lot for me as it means he believes in what we are building and I think McLaren-Honda will be a winning partnership.”
Confirming that the reworked McLaren structure is now firing on all cylinders, Boullier's current task is helping to make sure that the team can overcome its embarrassing Abu Dhabi test and arrive in Melbourne as a competitive entity next March.
“I'm very happy with the team spirit now,” the Frenchman admitted, “We have found the racing culture is massively growing, but the first job was to make sure that all the departments were in order. All the company has the right mindset now and you can feel that an announcement like [the driver line-up] is helping to grow this mindset faster.”
The problems in testing, therefore, are viewed as something of a short-term setback, with work already underway to rectify the issues that arose at Yas Marina.
“We changed the schedule a little and obviously sent Honda and McLaren people, MAT people and the car back here for investigations,” Boullier revealed, “They worked very hard for a week to find out everything and a recovery plan is in place. Part of it has been already fixed, so there are now some further tests on the dyno to validate.
“It was not only one issue. There were hardware issues, which obviously made the wrong software code, so we first had to find out what was wrong in the hardware system to fix the software system.”
Asked whether McLaren would be looking to wheel out the Honda-powered machine ahead of next year's scheduled group tests, Boullier remained non-committal – and would not confirm whether such an outing would benefit from Alonso being behind the wheel.
“We don't know who will drive the car, but we will see - maybe, maybe not,” he said of plans to test before Jerez, “I don't know - there is no decision yet. We have to go through all the dyno issues and make sure [the issue] is fixed. Only then, at the beginning of January, will we see what we will do.”
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