21 April 2015
F1 Bahrain Grand Prix: Boullier insists 'no problem with motivation'
Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso remain fully in support of McLaren and Honda's efforts to close the gap on F1's frontrunners, despite a pointless start to the 2015 season.
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier insists that both the team's drivers remain firmly behind its push to rejoin F1's frontrunners despite a frustrating start to the 2015 season.
Neither Jenson Button or Fernando Alonso have scored a point so far this year, and the Briton suffered further ignominy in Bahrain on Sunday when the team deemed it unsafe for his car to start the race after problems in qualifying.
Button was already due to start the fourth round of the championship from last on the grid after failing to set a time in Saturday's qualifying session, but telemetry data when the car was fired up after being rebuilt suggested that problems still existed with its ERS system. In all, he completed just 27 laps over the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend.
Alonso, meanwhile, was forced to miss the opening round in Australia while still suffering the effects of concussion sustained in a crash during winter testing, and joined Button in retiring from race two in Malaysia. Since then, the Spaniard has gone the distance in rounds three and four, most recently recording an eleventh place finish to match that achieved by Button in Melbourne.
While reliability is clearly still an issue, however, Boullier insists that both drivers remain positive about the progress being made by both McLaren and Honda as they play catch up to the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari.
“I don't see an issue with motivation with them,” the Frenchman claimed, “They see and feel the progress and I guess they both know how mature the project is and where we are going, so they already have a view on short-term, medium-term and end of the year.
“Even now, we have started to talk about next year because we want them to be buying into what we are doing and also be critical about where we go. It is good to have different opinions and points of view, but they are very much professional and I have to say I am 100 per cent happy.”
Boullier is also content with the effort being exerted on track, despite the two former world champions finding themselves at the unfamiliar end of the grid.
“They are doing a very good job,” he noted, “They clearly extract everything they can from the car, [and make] no mistakes – it's very impressive.”
With Alonso's home race next on the schedule, McLaren and Honda have three weeks to find the next step in performance to close the gap to the frontrunners, and Boullier admits that there is still a lot of work to do.
“We are still having issues on one car, but the other car was trouble-free all weekend, so it is encouraging,” he insisted, “It is good to see that we are making progress and are now just about on merit to score points, but obviously we are still far from where we want to be.”
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