In an interview with the media this morning, McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier has said that McLaren could run a Honda-powered car at the post-Abu Dhabi GP test in November.
Honda’s motorsport boss Yasuhisa Arai had already predicted that their new power unit would get its first run out when pre-season testing starts at Jerez early next year, just weeks before the start of the new season.
However in his interview with the media this morning, Boullier said that a Honda-powered McLaren might yet take to the track at the end of the current campaign. Boullier stated the following:-
‘Yes. This is not defined. The safe side is that we’ll obviously be in Jerez with a McLaren-Honda car. But it keeps open to maybe the possibility that if everything is matching in our schedules to run it earlier.’
Even though Boullier cannot actually confirm when they will be testing the Honda engine either before Jerez or at Jerez itself, it is clear that the possibility of testing the engine early is open and that everything is on track to either test it early or as planned in Jerez at the first season test of the 2015 season.
Further on in his interview, Boullier will not give a definite answer if they will run a Honda engine before Jerez. Boullier added the following:-
‘We won’t give a definite answer now because we actually don’t know yet exactly. It’s very likely to be before Jerez. We’ll see.’
I think Boullier is right not to state when they will be testing the Honda engine earlier as planned or on the schedule they originally planned. The main thing is that everything is going according to plan and if the engine can be tested earlier, then it will be. If not, then it will be as they planned and nothing will affect this at the moment.
Speaking earlier this month, Honda Motorsport Boss Arai said that Honda’s new 1.6-litre turbo hybrid is about to commence dyno testing. However, his prediction was that it wouldn’t be on track in a McLaren chassis until next year. Arai stated the following in his interview on the subject:-
‘We are absolutely within our development plan. Our engine – or more precisely our power unit – is ready for a whole system check, but without the chassis. It will still need more time to bring the power unit and chassis together and then be able to run checks with the complete car.
‘In the next couple of weeks we will run simulations and at the beginning of next year we will start to run on the track – very likely at Jerez. That will very likely be the first time to show the whole car, the Honda engine and the McLaren chassis – the Honda McLaren. Right now there are no plans to collect data during the rest of 2014. Jerez will be the first time.’
Even though Arai has confirmed that everything is running according to their plans, it is great news to see that Honda has been working hard to ensure that their deadlines are being met and being met on time. But they will need to ensure that they keep working hard to meet the deadline and also make sure that their systems work effectively as they can before being tested on the track.
It would seem in the next few weeks that Honda is planning to run simulations with their engine in order to see how they will likely to perform on the track when they test their engine and the McLaren chassis either before Jerez or at Jerez next year. But it is a good sign for McLaren and Honda and I am sure that both parties are happy with the progress that is being made.
If McLaren and Honda are happy with the progress they are making, they could if run in the Abu Dhabi test which is scheduled for November 25-26 and is two days after the current season finishes. But even though it would be great for both McLaren and Honda to make that test and test their chassis and engine together, I believe that they will make sure that they work as hard as they can to make sure that they hit the ground running in Jerez in early 2015 at the first pre-season test.
And if things keeping heading in a positive direction for both parties, we could see that the hard work of McLaren and Honda starting to reap reward. Question is; will McLaren and Honda get to the Abu Dhabi test? Personally, I don’t think so but I do feel that Jerez will be the first chance to see the return of the McLaren and Honda partnership in action on track. But we shall see what happens in the next few weeks.