Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Judge McLaren on first races, not tests – Boullier

2018 F1 season

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McLaren racing director Eric Boullier defended the team’s perform in pre-season testing and said they should be judged on how they perform in the first races of the new season.

A series of problems has stopped the MCL33 since testing began last week which Boullier decirbed as “minor issues”. He told the team’s critics to “wait and see” how they get on when the championship begins.

Esteban Ocon, Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
Pictures: 2018 pre-season F1 testing day eight
“If you judge based on a few issues on three days, better to wait a few races,” said Boullier.

He said the previous three years with Honda had been “difficult” for the team and they are “now trying to get McLaren back where it should be.”

“Like anything you don’t do it in one day and there is maybe a few glitches. We have not lost our capability of designing fast cars and I hope you will see it on track soon.

“We have to be ambitious, to be ambitious you have to take risks. All this we need to put everything back together and working together.

Boullier was reluctant to draw comparisons with the team’s poor pre-season tests with Honda 12 months ago.

“I’m not sure I want to compare anything with last year because obviously this year was not really good enough,” he said. “We didn’t do enough laps.”

“I would have loved to hit the track and had no reliability issues at all. We had some, we have to do our best now to recover with the few miles we have left until tonight.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 35 comments on “Judge McLaren on first races, not tests – Boullier”

    1. Fair enough – I remember RBR was a disaster in 2014 testing, but quickly came good in the season.

      Hope springs eternal.

    2. I just wish that Kimi could drive for McLaren, so we can have all the pain in one convenient package. Despite all the window dressing, that Mac is slooow.

      1. I just wish that Kimi could drive for McLaren, so we can have all the pain in one convenient package

        @baron LOL :-D

      2. @baron Not that slow now, with that late glory run!

    3. testing for McLaren so far:
      torn MCL
      return questionable

      1. Put the car on the injured reserve list and move on :)

    4. Boulier we are not judging, we are just having a bit of fun, because considering the past seasons events it is funny that the STR works and the McLaren doesn’t, that’s all

      1. I’m judging a bit tbh tough

        1. @mrboerns but you are not judging their performance (evil laugh)

          1. @johnmilk how do you kill that which has no life?

            1. @mrboerns how many south park references do you know?

    5. People can refrain from judging testing because of the disaster of the last 3 seasons. It doesn’t help that Honda seems reliable (albeit unremarkable). For some reason bashing McLaren has become F1’s favorite pastime. This test leaves me hopeful, but not reassured about McLaren’s season. Melbourne can’t come soon enough. At the very least, the midfield looks as exciting as ever.

      1. I think it’s definitely a step up from Honda. Heck, even if they don’t finish races, it looks better to retire when you’re fighting for P6 as compared to P16. I don’t expect McLaren to start off strong, but by Barcelona they should be on it.

        Toro Rosso Honda, which has gathered the love of all the McLaren bashers, will probably be reliable but battling the Saubers as all Honda powered cars do.

      2. Didn’t even know ” McLaren bashing” was a thing until some people started coining.the phrase here on racefans. Makes it sound like McLaren are some kind of victim and deserve sympathy and protection.

        But hang on. They have saturated the media very intelligently and deliberately this last off season (Brown is a marketing man after all). And this was achieved by selling to the media by various ways and means how good the team is and how things will be better now the real problem has left for Torro Rosso. And now, testing done, we find they may have been overcooking that line a bit.

        So they put themselves in a position for ridicule. Boasting then not delivering always does. Also, true fans are disappointed that 2018 looks like a write off compared to the hot air of tiresome pro-Macca marketing we’ve been subjected to over the last little while.

        So despite the term McLaren bashing, I don’t think they are the victim here. Not at all. People are just telling it how they see it. And if McLaren do do well this season in sure the opposite opinion will flood the comments, and no doubt the headlines as well.

        1. “And this was achieved by selling to the media by various ways and means how good the team is and how things will be better now the real problem has left for Torro Rosso.”

          It’s not a secret Honda was the major reason for McLaren’s failure – that is a given. Having said that, McLaren wasn’t fault free.

          But they have reason to be optimistic. The major reason is they will finally have a more powerful and reliable engine. Yes, they had problems in the tests but no where near as many with Honda. It’s far too early for us to declare that Honda has improved by leaps and bounds although it shouldn’t be too difficult to improve as their performance was dismal for 3 full seasons.

          Another reason for optimism is their excellent chassis designer. For those who aren’t aware, their chief aerodynamicist, Peter Prodromou, worked for years with Newey at Red Bull during Vettel’s championships and is very highly regarded. It’s not a coincidence Alonso and others claim they have one of the best chassis’ in the field.

          Finally, they have two solid drivers whose talents have been wasted over the past 3 years. Chances are high Alonso will perform as always and that should lead to some podiums which hasn’t happened for years.

          So I don’t see it as a sales job but stating the obvious. They have the tools to be much more competitive now that Honda is gone. I think you are jumping the gun and should wait until several races are in the books before you judge them.

          1. Yes, it was a sales job and it was/is designed to reposition the brand as it suffered due to the Honda debacle.

            I am not saying that McLaren are a bad team, just that they have oversold and under delivered so far, hence the reason for negative comments.

            Sure, its only testing but in general you need to be reliable and fast out of the box. They weren’t.

            I personally want them to do well, but I also think an approach of playing expectation down would have placed them more favourably in public opinion. It would have given them room to have problems in testing, which are to be expected.

    6. Toro Rosso just admitted that they used a brand new engine every day last week and have used 1-2 this week’s test. So out of 8 days of testing they have used 5 engines. Not so much progress by Honda.

      1. 3 lst week which was the plan then used one this week when did so much mileage. Great progress without the anchor of McLaren.

        1. 4-5 engines in just 8 days of testing, I don’t think that is great improvement if we take into account that each driver will only have 3 engines per season. A driver has to do at least 100 laps per race counting 1-2-3 practices, qualifying and the race. Do you think that they would have use the least amount of engines on this test if they really were sure of their reliability ? They change le engines in each day of last week’s testing because they knew that those wouldn’t last two days in a row and they had to lose the least the least amount of running time knowing that there are only 8 days of testing. If you think they used 4-5 engines in 8 days of testing because they like to waste money because they please, then you are naive. They reality is that they were not sure of their reliability or confident on those engines, And Toro Rojo did not say anything about having used 5 engines in 8 days of testing and having changed an engine after each day of testing last week until someone find out that and leaked it to the press otherwise they would have not said anything about it. There is another rumor that when they had a “brake problem” it really was an engine problem. Toro Rossi is just following Honda orders and they want the world to believe that Mclaren is the guilty part of that partnership.

        2. Markp, I’m not sure that it is necessarily great progress if Honda are still trying to decide what engine specification to use when the first race is barely two weeks away. To me, that sounds like a fairly major negative point rather than a positive one – why are Honda still experimenting with different engine specifications when all of the other engine manufacturers settled that question months ago and will have already dispatched their engines to Australia for the opening race?

      2. It’s not the stupendous improvement that everyone is claiming, but they still didn’t have any engine failures in preseason testing. I think they had 8 or 9 failed engines in pre season testing last season.

    7. I’ll judge them at the first race but you’re already on the backfoot, Mr Boullier! fixing stuff means learning less about a car that as it sits there in the garage isn’t developed. Teething issues can happen but throughout all 8 days of testing (well, 7 days because of the snow) the team had problems with the car. That’s not a good sign.

      Maybe the car will be very competitive come Melbourne but it’d be even better had it not been for all this problems. So in the best possible scenario, it’s a loss already for them.

      1. Sorry but there is no way Mac is looking at this as a loss already. They’ve only just begun, and so far probably feel miles better than they did last year at this time. By year 3 and once again showing signs of yet another full season of doom and gloom, they must have all felt downright downtrodden exactly one year ago. Now they must feel that their problems have all been understandable in this new relationship and fixable, unlike for the last 3 years, and so they must truly be stoked that they actually have potential now. They would have loved to have had in the last 3 per-seasons the kinds of fixable teething issues that they have just experienced and tackled one by one this year.

        1. Yes, and they’re probably in for better performances than last year if the car holds for a race distance, initially they were barely fighting for points and had an incredibly unreliable car last year, and even in the best races where the car was fast and reliable they were fighting for 7th on merit, alonso got 6th with an awesome race in hungary, a track where the engine was less important, was 1 sec off the top teams and ricciardo had retired that race.

    8. If I had to choose between a Renault and a Honda engine after this test, Renault would win convincingly. 3 teams running it relatively reliably near the top of the times, Honda used 5 engines with less mileage than one has to do, and without a glimpse of flatout pace. Maybe the 2019 Honda will be the one, but not this year.

      1. James Key has stated that they ran 3 engines in the first test because it was their plan all along, not because they had too. I personally think that makes sense from Honda’s side, test to see if you are producing a consistent product and there are no problems in manufacturing.

        Key also said that they have only used 1 engine during the second test, but didn’t specify if it was one of the engines from the first test or a new one (unless I missed something).

        Torro Rosso only has lost track time due to their side thus far, not the engine. To me that makes the new engine look pretty reliable and shows Honda got on top of their quality control. Hoping now they can start extracting performance out of it now.

        1. They change the eangine in each of last week’s of testing. Then they used a new one at the beginning of this week’s test. They were quite about this until the press came out with that story and they had to admit it. If it wasn’t because someone leaked it to the press, Honda and Toto Rosso would have make it look as if they only had used one of two engines in the the pre-season tests. Someone said that they had problems with the engine but that they blame it toca brake problem. Since Honda paying a big portion of the bill l Honda is now dictating what toro rosso can or can’t release to the press.

    9. Basil (@flyingbasil)
      9th March 2018, 22:32

      Can anyone please explain why the heck is Eric Boullier is still there? I dont get why he was hiried in the first place after the mess he left at renalut\lotus, but maybe there have been reasons. But now this? Converting a top tier team into something that cant even consistently do a proper pit stop?

      1. Converting a top tier team into something that cant even consistently do a proper pit stop?

        I believe that was Martin Whitmarsh. Who threw away race wins and a title without being able to execute pit stops effectively.

        Boullier did a good job with Lotus in 2012 and 2013. He’s been doing the best he can with the Honda handicap, but let’s see how he gets on in the McLaren Renault era.

    10. Boullier was reluctant to draw comparisons with the team’s poor pre-season tests with Honda 12 months ago.

      Subsequent to last year’s display of unreliability were lots of official and semi-official announcements from McLaren regarding the unreliability of Honda’s power system, with McLaren finally terminating their contract with Honda. If Honda were to blame for all the unreliability then surely McLaren would have racked up lots of miles in pre-season testing like other Renault power unit users have done. Yet we’re still seeing problems with reliabilty from McLaren, which makes one wonder how much of the blame apportioned to Honda was justified.

      1. Mclaren are not that far behind in laps made or mileage run. Also lets not forget that most of the problems have had to do with them having to redesign the back of the car in order to fit the quite different Renault engine in comparison to the Honda one. They did en less than 3 months. And the car is basically the same as last year but with a Renault engine as they will have a almost brand new car (elaerodinamically speaking) for the first race. They have been working on that package for the last 3-4 months!

    11. Finally some good news for McLaren!
      Testing in general was hardly successful, but today gives everyone at McLaren a shot in the arm. The morale is surely high at this point. Great!

      It was obvious that the Renault engine wouldn’t be the problem power wise although McLaren skeptics got hung up on the speedtrap times (McLaren was last at one point).

      What wasn’t so clear was the performance capability of the chassis. Judging from today’s run and Alonso’s giddiness at the end of the day, Alonso wasn’t bluffing when he said it was one of, if not the best chassis. And Alonso says there is lots more to come!!

      Hardly the time to pop open the champagne but I think McLaren will be fine and possibly get some podiums this year. Hopefully they can be close or match Red Bull and have enough oomph to cause Merc and Ferrari to feel uneasy.

      I think it will take 4 or 5 races to get in a groove, but I think they will find their groove. I’m cautiously optimistic…
      Go get em McLaren!!

    12. Liberty is missing a big promo oppourtunity.

      It’s not just testing anymore – could be like a reverse Crashcar chase. Award team points for fastest test times, most laps completed, best snowplow wing design, most engines used. All available on the F1 Premium Beta Test App for a modest daily fee. ;-)

    13. Please just shut up and do your work Boullier. I’ve been listened to your craps for three years.

    14. Funny… It’s been 9 years without ANY KIND OF COMPETITION (since Brawn 2009 -Button)and people’s still reading about F1?

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