5 February 2015
Jerez F1 Test: McLaren issues plenty but 'small'
Matt Morris insists McLaren's ongoing issues during pre-season testing in Jerez were 'small' but added up to limit overall mileage.
McLaren-Honda insists the persistent issues afflicting its new MP4-30 are 'small' but have had the effect of restricting its running during its much anticipated first test.
Following a disastrous debut for the new Honda power unit in November, all eyes during the first 2015 F1 pre-season test in Jerez were on McLaren to see the steps forward it has in its collaboration with Honda over the winter.
However, the car would spend much of its time in garage with a series of problems that prevented drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button from getting out on track, the pair completing 79 laps in total over the four days.
Despite this, both Alonso and Button have played down the lack of mileage, insisting it is natural to expect problems with an all-new power unit and concept.
It is a sentiment shared by McLaren's engineering director Matt Morris, who contests there were no major issues with the car, but that the volume of the small problems added up to create a worse illusion.
“Unfortunately, we've had a few issues this week – all of which have been pretty small – but cumulatively they meant we were stuck in the garage for quite some time. Still, our prime objective coming away from this test was to ascertain that the main car architecture worked, and we've done that. One of the great benefits we've had in designing this car is the amount of work we've been able to undertake in close collaboration with Honda – particularly in terms of packaging.
“In tandem with that, we've really been helped by Mobil 1 – they designed a bespoke engine oil for us that's been optimised around the Honda power unit. That meant we were really able to push the limit on packaging and installation because we've had the confidence of knowing the cooling limits of the rear end, and the transmission. The result is a beautifully packaged piece of kit, and it's an area around which we'll continue to push development throughout the season.”
Though the car was expectedly comfortably off the ultimate pace as McLaren focused on mileage rather than times, Button was able to give a glimmer of potential during a short stint when he got the time down to less than seven seconds off the overall leader. With this in mind, Morris is pleased with the signs the car is giving.
“We had a couple of stoppages, but we were still able to get on with our aero progamme – obtaining correlation data for the guys back at the factory, just so we can check that everything's working as we expected.
“Additionally, Jenson's been able to give Honda some really good feedback – he's been constantly providing analysis after every run. That's to be expected: it's a new power unit, so there's a lot of information that being sent back to Japan, and Honda are constantly upgrading the car. We head to Barcelona hopeful of further refining and developing the package.”
McLaren has eight more days of pre-season testing in Barcelona before the start of the season in Australia.
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