McLaren could be ready to test a Honda engine before the end of 2014.
That is the claim of team boss Eric Boullier, even though the Frenchman’s immediate task after joining McLaren from Lotus is to win races with Mercedes power. After a promising start, McLaren’s season has slumped, and yet the newly-returned ‘supremo’ Ron Dennis is demanding race wins long before the switch to works Honda power. “I know why he (Dennis) is saying it,” said Jenson Button. “We have to be quicker this year if we want to be quick next year. “We have to keep on pushing and will not let up, unlike maybe Mercedes once they have a 300 point lead,” he smiled.
London newspaper The Times claims Boullier has been given “carte blanche” by Dennis to depart from traditional McLaren methods and “start again”. The highly-anticipated Honda era, meanwhile, may get an unexpectedly early start, with Boullier hinting the Japanese-made turbo V6 could get its first laps in Abu Dhabi at the end of the season. “We have thought about it,” said the Frenchman, referring to whether McLaren could immediately switch to Honda power for the post-race test after the Abu Dhabi finale in November. “We are currently running a Mercedes engine until Abu Dhabi so we will not run anything else, but we have thought to maybe try the (Honda) car afterwards,” added Boullier.
However, he dismissed the suggestion that – already without a title sponsor in 2014 – McLaren might as well write off this season in favour of the 2015 project. “We definitely are not in a limbo year,” he said. “We are working just flat-out at Woking and a title sponsor doesn’t change anything anyway as our budget is in place already. “Obviously next year’s power unit is another programme but it is not affecting what we are doing at all,” Boullier added.