Honda R&D's Yasuhisa Arai is tempering expectations ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix, despite McLaren opening its points account in Monaco.
After five weekends of frustration, the Woking team finally consummated its rekindled relationship with Honda as Jenson Button brought his MP4-30 home in eighth place in the Principality, but Arai is not necessarily expecting a repeat in Montreal this weekend given the very different characteristics of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
The Canadian venue has an old, low-grip surface, which makes it easy to get too much wheelspin under acceleration, and good driveability from the power unit will be vital due to the six second-gear corners around the lap, all of which lead onto long straights. The cars will exceed 300km/h on four occasions each before having to brake into a slow-speed chicane or hairpin, exercising the powerplants far more than they were in Monaco.
“The Canadian GP will be very different,” he confirmed, “This track is flat with long and fast straights, where the throttle is often fully open, which is tough on the power unit and fuel economy. Furthermore, hard braking is required. All in all, the circuit needs a completely different power unit setting from Monaco. We'll prepare the power unit so that it performs to its full potential during the weekend.”
Arai was naturally relieved to see Honda's V6 claim its first points in Monaco but, with Fernando Alonso being forced into retirement from a scoring position, there were still concerns for McLaren. Despite that, however, Arai is optimistic that the gap between the team and the front of the pack will continue to close in the coming weeks, even if there is little chance of extending McLaren's impressive 13-win record in Canada.
“At Monaco, I was very happy that McLaren-Honda scored its first championship points and this was down to the continuous hard work of the team,” he commented, “Of course, it was unfortunate that Fernando retired as we were hoping to get both cars home in the points, but we gain more confidence as the season goes on. Our power unit is progressing in the right direction, and we've taken another step upwards as a team.”