Eric Boullier says it remains McLaren-Honda's target to be competitive by the end of the 2015 season, insisting there are 'seconds' of pace still to be potentially unlocked from the package.

The team's troubled year has been a source of much discussion over the course of the 2015 season, but while a top ten finish for Fernando Alonso last time out in the British Grand Prix provided a boost, it was a far cry from the original target to be challenging for Q3 by Silverstone.

Indeed, having cracked the points on just two occasions this year and failed to make it beyond Q2, McLaren-Honda has struggled to fulfil objectives in 2015. Despite this, Boullier remains optimistic that McLaren could yet engineer the single step forward that would propel it towards the front of the grid before the year is out.

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"It is not that easy - it is not switching on something in the car and it works," he told the official F1 website. "A consequence could be that if you fix one problem you jump ahead not by tenths but by half a second; another problem - another half a second...

"We will feel competitive if we can be in Q3 all the time and fighting for top six. That would be a major achievement even if it doesn't sound very exciting, as we are here to win. We still target being competitive by the end of the season."

Indeed, despite today's troubled times, Boullier says there is still motivation to be had from the knowledge that its package has seconds of pace to come.

"We know that our cars have not tenths but seconds of potential that can be unlocked. We cannot physically use that because we have reliability issues, but if we overcome those we will be able to make major steps forward, believe me.

"If we can unlock the potential we will maybe be fighting - with some luck - for a podium. If you can deploy your MGU-K power on the straights on every lap, that is worth a lot of time. Today we can't do that."

However, Boullier accepts that reliability will need to improve significantly if it is to get close to its ambitious targets.

"We cannot power-up the car. The car is pretty well balanced. We are working to bring more downforce like everybody in the pit lane. We are missing speed on every part of the track.

"It is not completely down to only power - it has also to do with the driveability of the engine, which has proved very difficult and complex to manage so far. Let me give you an example: we all have the same power in terms of electrical power, but some engines are doing a better job in recovering the energy. That is why you see a difference in qualifying and the race.

"We are not able today to unlock the full recovery potential because if we do it creates reliability issues - and that hurts us in terms of performance. But it is there, we just have to find the right remedies to unlock it."

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107SS2009:
FVA47: Didn,t Honda have driveability problems with the old engine? The solution then was to fit a Mercedes engine and call it a Brawn!![\blockquote]

The drivability of the Honda at the time you are talking about was not the problem, if the Honda engine was on offer at that time Brawn would have used it and not the Mercedes engine and he would have made a couple more millions out of that project. [\blockquote]

Not so. Both drivers commented at the first test of the BGP01 that the Mercedes engine had a far better torque curve than the previous Honda engine, which was all top-end power.