McLaren-Honda racing director Eric Boullier hopes his team “can make further progress” during this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix as the European leg of the F1 season kicks off at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
The Woking-based team and its Japanese engine supplier have experienced a trying start to their 2015 campaign, with the renewed alliance struggling to get on top of the new hybrid power unit technology and suffering a series of technical issues.
Jenson Button could not even take part in last month’s Bahrain Grand Prix because of a recurrent ERS glitch while the Honda-powered MP4-30 is yet to break into Q3 in qualifying this year.
McLaren has nonetheless been steadily improving in terms of overall performance and narrowing the gap to their rivals since Melbourne. Fernando Alonso was rewarded with a maiden Q2 appearance at Sakhir before the Spaniard came within 3.9s of claiming his team’s first 2015 point finish on race day.
With Button having already claimed that McLaren could start troubling the top ten in Spain, Boullier looks to see his squad take another step at round five of this year’s championship.
“We’re certainly going into the beginning of the European leg of the season with a positive frame of mind,” said the Frenchman. “Of course, we can never be satisfied with our results until we’re fighting for regular victories.
“However, I’m very pleased with our progress and the efforts of the entire team – both within McLaren and Honda – and we go to Spain hopeful that we can make further progress there.”
Despite the massive upgrades scheduled, Boullier remains well aware that there is no magic solution to McLaren-Honda’s early woes and thinks hard work and consistency will ultimately pay dividends.
“During the three-week break between Bahrain and Spain, we’ve been working very productively on every front to bring improvements to the car.
“We know that one fix or upgrade won’t provide a significant upturn in performance, so we’re united in our continued efforts to bring further gains to both chassis and power unit, in terms of both reliability and outright performance, step by step.”
Click here for a look at the radical Honda power unit design