McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has played down another frustrating day of testing for the British squad, insisting the ongoing technical problems had not been a setback.
Fernando Alonso, beginning his second stint with McLaren after an acrimonious departure in 2007, completed only six laps as he propped up the timesheets on his first run in the new Honda-powered MP4-30, but Boullier insisted that the issues had not been major and could be fixed in time for the team to pick up its programme on day two.
“We have been quite extreme in packaging our car and every technical solution that we brought is something that we believe would help us to close the gap quite quickly to Mercedes,” the Frenchman explained, “However, being ambitious, or brave, doesn't mean we can be reliable and we are struggling with a few electrical issues which are quite difficult to fix.
“They are fixable - they could be fixed actually by tomorrow - but we may end up with other issues on the way, so I just want to be a little cautious on this because, every time we fix one [thing], we open up something else. We will get on top of this - I don't know when, but as soon as possible.
“Even if we only did six laps today, there is no drama. Everything can be fixed, so there is no big issue on the car. It looks driveable like we want and it's just a matter of time now before we fix the little glitches.”
Having similarly failed to fire when first testing the Honda V6 in end of season testing after last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, day one at Jerez could be seen as a harbinger for the Woking-based squad, but Boullier – who is targeting at least 60 laps on day two of the test - remains confident that the package will eventually be competitive.
“When we do more laps, I will tell you [the likely level of performance at the first race] but, on present simulation, we should at least be better than the end of last year,” he reasoned, “Even with simulation, dynos, whatever you want, you still need the track to get the package all together, and working together. We have the 2015 car here and, obviously, we have to go through, again, some pain and some glitches to allow us to run.
“Obviously, we don't want to take any risks either because, if you blow the engine up or whatever, you face damaging the car and you will lose more time. We only have twelve days [of testing] and we would have loved to have run more today, but we have to move step by step.
“We want to win and, to win, we have to be better than the rest, and the best last year was Mercedes so this is the reference today. It was the line taken by McLaren-Honda to be as brave as possible and try to make sure we can catch up or close the gap as soon as possible because, to be better, we have to be much better than the others. Honda went through some good technical solutions and that brings some reliability issues maybe, but I think, again, they are on top of it.
“They have the people, the resources, the technology, so I think they can match [the Mercedes engine] but, having started two years after the others, obviously they have to catch up quite a lot. We will see the best of the package for this year in Australia and then, obviously depending on what can be done on the engine further on in the season, we can maybe expect some improvement later, but I think the engine in Australia will already be a good result.”