Honda boss admits concern


Honda boss Yusuke Hasegawa has admitted that McLaren's chances may be compromised at the start of season by the poor reliability of its power unit.

Monday saw Fernando Alonso lose valuable track time due to an oil system issue that turned out to be the poor design of the oil tank - a basic issue that should have been discovered on the test bed.

While things improved over the course of the test, the team endured a number (three) of engine changes and neither Alonso or Stoffel Vandoorne being in a position to complete a decent run far less post competitive times.

The frustration was not limited to within the McLaren garage, at one point when the Spaniard ground to a halt as he entered the pitlane, having only completed an out-lap, the fans in the stand opposite began jeering.

The following day, Vandoorne suffered a similar failure but thankfully there were no Belgian fans to register their disappointment.

Having made clear progress in 2016, this year, having taken advantage of the scrapping of the token system, the Japanese manufacturer has produced a new engine.

Seaking to Spain's Movistar TV station, Hasegawa admitted that he is concerned the start of McLaren's 2017 campaign will be compromised.

"The first day we had an oil system issue, the oil tank," he confirmed. "Normally the oil tank has to manage the oil level but this year we had some bad oil management so that is why we need to modify the oil tank system.

"The second day we had a mechanical issue and we still don't know the root cause of the problem," he admitted. "This is more fundamental and more serious I think. We need to find out what was causing the issue."

Asked if the various issues will compromise the start to the season, he replied: "The oil tank definitely not... the mechanical issue, I don't know yet to be confident about that, but of course I worry about that."

Asked if the issues were straining the relationship with McLaren, he admitted: "In the tests, of course, this is a time we need to overcome a lot of trouble. So sometimes we need to argue or we need to have constructive discussion, but I think we are doing a very good job and we have a very good relationship."

Amidst talk that next week will see Honda introduce the engine it intends running in Melbourne, Hasegawa said: "We are supposed to, but we had a mechanical issue so currently I am discussing with Sakura members and Japanese members about next week's engine.

"We have modified the package so the engine is lighter and the centre of gravity lower," he said. "This gives us a big benefit of the behaviour of the car and we change the internal combustion engine to extract more power."

Meanwhile, the investigation into the issues continues back in Japan, the power units having been returned for analysis ahead of next week's final test.

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Published: 03/03/2017
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