McLaren unsure if it can finish first race
16 March 2017 – Eric Boullier has admitted that he is unsure whether McLaren-Honda will be able to finish the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, after another troubled pre-season period.
McLaren-Honda completed only 424 laps over eight days of testing, in comparison to Mercedes' total of 1096, as the Japanese firm again struggled for reliability and performance.
Fernando Alonso declared that Honda's all-new engine has "no reliability and no power", the MCL32 failing to string 15 laps together, and its best time better than only Sauber.
Asked in an interview with Spanish newspaper AS if McLaren-Honda will be able to reach the chequered flag in Melbourne, Boullier replied: "Oh, I hope so, but I don't know."
He added: "The truth is we're having more problems than we expected.
"We knew that we'd encounter some things [in testing], but truly not as many as we're seeing. We're always working to reduce the [number] of problems and to be able to go faster."
Boullier has already conceded that there are no "overnight fixes" for the current issues, while Honda F1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa says the brand is slightly "scared" of its position.
"We have set ourselves some very ambitious targets," Boullier went on to state.
"[We've tried to] improve the chassis, downforce, suspension, whatever we can... I think the car is a good platform and we're going to bring in more parts over the next few weeks, especially for Australia.
"I don't know if the Honda engine will be able to compete with (rival manufacturers) Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault, but if it is and we get a good final package, we'll be competitive."
Boullier reiterated that all McLaren-Honda can do is to continue working hard.
"The only solution is to keep working hard, to get back to competing with the new concept, which has some issues," said Boullier, when asked what the team needs to do moving forward.
"The problem is the timing. We should be fixing these in January, not in March.
"We've put in a lot over the last two years to fix things, to get back to being at the front. We've got to make a big engineering effort to get there. We need to keep working hard."
See also: McLaren admits Alonso's future down to strong car