As the team undergoes a second torrid year in succession, McLaren’s new Honda era may begin in 2014 according to acting Team Principal Eric Boullier.
Though contracted with Mercedes, and will run the German marque’s V6 hybrid until the end of the season, the post Abu Dhabi test may see an immediate switch to their new Japanese supplier.
Certainly the change could not come soon enough for the Woking team who, to the surprise of everyone, are the slowest team using what is widely regarded as the best power unit on the grid.
Indeed as Williams and Force India clock up top six finishes and even the occasional podium, poor reliability and a lack of pace has seen McLaren fail to score a point since Malaysia, quite remarkable for a team who had a double podium result themselves after Daniel Ricciardo’s exclusion in Melbourne.
The returning Chairman of the McLaren Group Ron Dennis is still calling for his team to score victories in 2014, something that for most seem a far away dream.
“I know why he (Dennis) is saying it,” driver Jenson Button is quoted by GMM. “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.
Dennis has given the newly inserted Boullier free reign over how the team is run allowing him to deviate away from McLaren’s traditional operating methods if necessary.
And as the current trials and tribulations on the track continue, Boullier has hinted an early Honda test could be part of a revival solution for 2015.
“We have thought about it,” the Frenchman replied when asked if an Abu Dhabi test with Honda was possible.
“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.
Despite the anticipation and expectations from the Honda reunion, the former Lotus boss, however, is not ready to write off 2014 yet.
“We definitely are not in a limbo year,” he said.
Asked if the lack of a title sponsor, following the departure of Vodafone at the end of last year, had been a factor he added: “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.
Following the third successive race without scoring a point in Spain, McLaren’s Jenson Button made the controversial comment that perhaps having rookie Kevin Magnussen in the team was holding development of the MP4-29 back.
Certainly to see a growing sense of disgruntlement from the 34-year-old may start some questions over how committed Button is to his future in the sport.
While next year would mark his own reunion with Honda, after racing with them for several years as BAR before then becoming a works team, the death of his father John Button, a man who had been at Jenson’s side throughout his career, had those wondering if motivation may flag.
However, according to Sky Sports, Button has no intention of hanging up his helmet just yet.
“I definitely want to be in F1. This sort of season does not make you want to retire,” said Button, now in his 15th season in the sport.
“If you do retire, you want to retire on a high and if you have the possibility to do that, then you continue racing to get that high. The problem then is when you do that you don’t want to stop racing either, so you could be racing for many years.
“But no, I don’t feel I want to retire at the end of this year. I am happy about my future, and think it is quite exciting.”
With the Briton out of contract at McLaren at the end of the year, and competition from young drivers such as McLaren’s own Stoffel Vandoorne, Button admits that to stay in F1 he wants to be at a team which can be competitive.
“It is a difficult decision for a driver in my position, with so much experience and so much to give,” he explained.
“I’m at the point in my career where I’ve only a few years left where I will be in F1, and I want to be in a position where I can win races or be close to winning races.
“I would like to think I’ll be here and the team will be competitive towards the end of this season, which will then give me good reason to want to be here.”
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