McLaren-Honda will start the 2016 Formula 1 season with a significantly improved power unit that will be able to fully deploy its ERS after a major overhaul during the winter period, according to sources.
Hampered by woeful reliability and disappointing performance from its new Honda engine, McLaren suffered its worst F1 season since 1980 last year, but both parties have sounded a more positive attitude coming into 2016 having focused on correcting flaws over Christmas.
Key to making up ground is getting full deployment from the Energy Recovery System, a deficit that bled time but could not be amended until the winter period. According to the Spanish AS.com
publication, it says McLaren has now made modifications to the car's unusual compact packaging – thanks to the efforts of chief engineer Peter Prodromou – to relocate the ERS, as well as increase the turbo.
Though the full proof of the improvements won't be made clear until the MP4-31 – which is unveiled on February 21st – turns its first competitive wheel on February 22nd, AS says sources believe the gains could amount to 70hp from the turbo and an extra 160hp from the ERS – a potential 230hp gain.
When combined, it is thought McLaren-Honda will be brought onto a relative par to the pace setting Mercedes – excusing its own improvements over the winter -, which would put greater emphasis on the quality of the chassis which drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button both felt was competitive in isolation last year.
F1 testing kicks off in little more than a month's time at the Circuit de Catalunya, with eight days of track action before the opening round in Australia on 18-20 March.