Vandoorne: No answer yet for McLaren problems

2017 Formula 1 Season

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Stoffel Vandoorne says McLaren still does not fully understand what the electrical problems are that continue to hamper their pre-season testing programme.

Speaking after his final day in the MCL32 was disrupted by two stoppages, Vandoorne admitted that McLaren were still yet to figure out the issue at the heart of their problems.

Testing day seven in pictures
“This morning we had an electrical problem, but at the moment we still do not know what the issue is,” says Vandoorne. “The team and Honda are investigating at the moment what went wrong, so I don’t have a correct answer yet.”

Despite the two stoppages, Vandoorne was able to produce McLaren’s fastest time of testing so far, improving by over a second on their previous best with a 1’21.348.

“I think we’ve not maybe covered the amount of laps we wanted today, but overall it’s been positive for the time that we were on track,” Vandoorne explains. “I felt very confident with the car. I could attack like I wanted to. So it was positive for all the laps that I did.

“We’ve definitely made some steps forward with the car. There’s still some issues going on – we’d have liked to do more laps through this winter. This was my final day before Melbourne. So I would’ve liked to do more laps, which is normal. But in any case, I feel 100-percent ready for Melbourne. I feel confident in the car.”

Following his team mate’s public criticism of Honda’s new power unit after another difficult session yesterday, Vandoorne says he is keen to not let frustrations get the better of the team.

“It’s winter testing, it’s the start of the season. We know that the situation at the moment is not ideal. We’re pushing very hard together to make the team go forward. Every lap we get on track is extremely valuable for us and we’re trying to push the team in the right direction for future developments.

“We can’t sit still and do nothing. We’re trying to make the most of it. The last thing we should do is be frustrated about it and do nothing because then we won’t move forward as well.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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37 comments on “Vandoorne: No answer yet for McLaren problems”

  1. Will see great battle this year, not only with the packed midfield but also at the back Vandoorne vs Wehrlein will be interesting to see :)

    1. Their cars will be so bad they will wish they were in Manors

  2. How does Alonso get away with bagging Honda but Vandoorne is playing the pc game? But now both are coming down strongly in favour of their team’s car

    Mclaren trying and clear their name a bit? Doesn’t look good for Honda relations from the outside

    1. Because Alonso’s 40 mil. euro two times WDC and maybe the best driver on the grid, meanwhile Vandoorne is nobody in F1 yet, just a high-prospect rookie.

      1. Also its the fastest car Vandoorne has ever driven

        1. And Alonso has been getting perhaps the worst engine he has driven for the third year in a raw. Honda promised him to built a good engine but instead they have produce a gp2 engine. So I don’t get your criticisms towards Alonso.

      2. Alonso must have got sick of PR and being positive at Ferrari. He carried some of their cars on his back. He’s probably feeling double the pain at McLaren.

  3. Sviatoslav (@)
    9th March 2017, 20:55

    I’d go as far as say that Honda will leave F1 this year. We may even hear an official statement after Australia or next month at latest.

    1. No way on earth that will ever happen. The storm erupting from that occurring would be devastating. Honda can’t lose face like that and McLaren would be able to recover damages into the 10, if not hundreds, of millions.

      1. Sviatoslav (@)
        10th March 2017, 5:26

        Honda left F1 in 2009, remember?

        1. Indeed after the famous “Earth car” completely underwhelmed

        2. Interesting to note that if they had stayed they would have won the 2009 championship (BrawnGP)

          1. You can’t say that. You don’t know how well Honda’s engine would have performed in the 2009 (Brawn) car.

        3. Yes, they did leave in 2009. But they only lost face to themselves, they did not let anyone else down. If they leave now, they will let McLaren down which would be many times worse in their eyes.

    2. In your dreams man… Honda have spent hundreds of millions already on that engine to leave after 3 years, if Mclaren split there are Sauber or Williams who will take them not only because of the engine but also the money involved.

      If I’m not mistaken, Honda shoulders a lot of cost in the Mclaren F1 team that is why they are called partners and not only engine supplier.

      And if you know the Japanse culture, they will not leave like this, they went here to prove something and they will not leave without proving that.

      1. Sviatoslav (@)
        10th March 2017, 5:27

        Honda left F1 in 2009. And they prove they’re failing – this is what you wanted to tell? Now everyone knows that Honda isn’t capable of building F1 engines.

      2. Sunk cost fallacy. Honda could have spent trillions on their f1 projects but even then it makes no sense to continue in f1 if there are no prospects of ever improving. Not to mention that doing f1 at this level is just a huge cost that currently buys them no positive pr and actually hurts their brand. Honda could leave any time if they wanted. They’d probably need to pay for mclaren for the contract termination but that could be less expensive than making engines and running full seasons in f1 with bad results.

        Only issue then is that what could mclaren do. Ferrari will never sell them an engine. Renault not either because mclaren would finish ahead of their factory team. Only real choise is going back to mercedes but I doubt even them would want mclaren back as they could be a threat. Problem with selling engines to mclaren is the same as it was with red bull. Sell them an engine and they will beat your factory team on the track.

        Mercedes is completely safe with force india and williams. Those teams will never challenge the merc factory team. Ferrari is safe with sauber and haas. Those two will never challenge ferrari factory team. Renault hurt their chances by selling engines to toro rosso and red bull and will have almost an impossible task to beat red bull ever. For renault to sell engines to mclaren would be suicide for their factory team. Things would have been better in the v8 era when the engines were simpler and close in performance. But with these engines they are key part of winning races. And I doubt mclaren would accept using old engines. If honda left they are completely blameless so why should they be penalized with bad engines.

        Also for any engine supplier to supply mclaren could hurt the engine manufacturer. All the engine manufacturers currently have 3 teams except honda. Anyone who takes mclaren will be taking 4th team which could be something they probably can’t really do without losing some performance

        1. @socksolid I doubt McLaren would be a threat to Mercedes as their customer team as the last time they were Mercedes-powered they were nowhere near the factory team neither result or pace-wise, so I highly doubt it.

          1. ‘Either’

          2. Mclaren has the budgets and skill to win races. They are going through bad period but with good engine and with the talented engineering team they have they could definitely be a championship winning team. If not win championships then at least win some races.

        2. Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault aren’t really “selling” their engines to anyone; they are massively subsidised, any fees paid by teams like Williams, Redbull etc are token gestures in comparison to the development costs. The benefit of doing this is to starve any other engine competition out of F1.

          When Redbull were going through their engine crisis, there were many complaining that it was unfair that Mercedes wouldn’t give them an engine, but why should Mercedes subsidies their competitors?

          McLaren realised the only way to beat the engine supplier teams is to have their own engine. Unfortunately Honda just aren’t up to the job with this current engine formula, but as long as they keep paying the bills McLaren will stick with it as they’re not going to get any help from the other suppliers now.

      3. And if you know the Japanse culture, they will not leave like this, they went here to prove something and they will not leave without proving that.

        They proved that no one can make a slower and more unreliable engine. Point proved. Pack up and go home.

      4. then tell honda to get it together, we don’t give a darn about how much they spent on the engine, make it run ffs.

  4. Honda has a big disadvantage because they have only 1 team for testing against Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault with 3-3-3 teams. Moreover Honda arrived later and they have a brand new/ modified PU but they can’t test enough beacuse of reliability problems.

    1. Agree, and most people forget thise facts and bash Honda day in and day out.

      Honda has the most odds againsts them. A returning manufacturer in a new formula and 1 team to get data from is a huge ask. They have probably the biggest balls is taking up those challenge unlike VW or BMW who said they don’t want to enter because the new PU are too complicated and costly.

      1. also, reportedly, Ron forced Honda to join an year earlier than they initially intended, effectively cutting their development program in half…

        1. If they joined in 2016,they would be in deepee doo doo right now. If you ask me, there biggest mistake was joining a season later than everyone else.

        2. Ron also wanted mclaren to do some engine work with honda but honda refused and wanted to do it all by themselves. Honda has no excuses. It is third year in the programme and they are still worse off than renault were in their first year!

        3. If he hadn’t forced them to get in one year earlier they would be in dream land for longer. He basically forced a reality check on them at the expense of his team. They should be grateful instead.

          Also this whole testing with other teams and blaming Mclaren for it is bull. Who would have taken their engine when it was such a mess? I wouldn’t.

  5. It would be really amazing if such problems would not have appeared in their off-car, factory engine tests. My guessing is they arrived at the Barcelona tests with out having even fired up the engine before. Reminds so much or two seasons ago…

    1. I agree, its as if they have no dyno time whatsoever on the engine.

  6. McLaren’s driver lineup is just as good as Merc, Red Bull or Ferrari, yet I’d be surprised if they scored any points at all this season. What a waste of talent.

    1. Simon le Bon
      10th March 2017, 21:56

      You never know until the season is over. The concept of the Honda engine is very good, and I really hope Honda will get its act together, so McLaren (which IMO looks awesome) get the podium they deserve.

      Problem is that no other team wants the Honda engine, so development time/data is far behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault which each have 3 teams using their engines. But, knowing the Japanese culture, Honda will do everything to get on top of this.

  7. Going against the obvious, I think Honda will turn this around and soon as the situation is different than 2 years ago. They can now upgrade the engine throughout the season which was not allowable previously and they trashed the size zero concept and are mimicking a successful engine design.

    Lastly, there is no way out for Honda. To quit when competitive is one thing but to concede failure when they are the largest manufacturer of motors in the world AND are known for their quality and reliability is unthinkable, especially in Japanese culture.

    I don’t believe McLaren has a choice but to stick with Honda as the latter are paying a lot of the bills and McLaren knows it’s their only chance of winning a championship. So for better or worse, they are in it together. Although a championship is out of the picture, 3rd in the WCC should be attainable.

    1. I am going to start a conspiracy theory here based on no Publicity is bad publicity. Honda has realized that they wont be able to beat Mercedes and even in the best of cases would be left fighting the lights of Renault and Force India for the spoils, now they have deliberately “messed up” and hence grab the headlines of every single report. Everyone keeps talking about them and their factory in Japan and not a single word gets mentioned about the boys in Brackley. Mercedes is and has been dominating the sport but is getting some unfavorable press because they are “killing” the sport and competition and making F1 Predictable.

  8. i just don;t want another miserable season for such a team, this team belongs at the top, everytime i watch a video of the testing and i see alonso’s face, tells me all i want to know how worried he is about the season ahead….

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