Formula 1

McLaren-Honda still aiming to repeat history despite slow start

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McLaren remain confident they can repeat the same success with Honda that the two enjoyed when they were partners in the late 1980's.

After two disappointing years the Woking team looked back to go forward rekindling the engine partnership that won four consecutive world championships from 1988-1991 with the great Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost behind the wheel.

However, their new alliance has got off to a slow start with synchronisation and sensor issues blighting their first six days of testing in Abu Dhabi and last week at Jerez.

A mountain to climb

Despite that and the ominous reliability of the Mercedes in Spain, CEO Ron Dennis said in a press conference at Honda's HQ in Tokyo that the McLaren-Honda partnership would overcome and achieve their aim of once again being the combination to beat in F1.

"You don't expect to be at the top of the mountain the day you start climbing," Dennis was quoted by Reuters. "It takes time and you also have to prepare well.

"We are very much preparing for the climb, and it's going to be a challenging climb but it's a climb that both Honda and McLaren have made several times together."

An aggressive approach

What has been very clear in the early weeks and months of the re-collaboration is there is certainly no intent for Honda to ease back into F1.

Instead the Japanese carmaker, who pulled out the last year McLaren claimed a championship back in 2008, has gone radical from the beginning with its new engine and the MP4-30 car is certainly a much more aggressive design compared to some teams that gave the new V6 turbo power units a little more space last year to ensure better cooling.

There is no settling in process taking place and instant results are the primary aim as the two sides look to live up to the reputation their partnership has created over the years.

"We are ready for the challenge and we will have success. Because history shows that Honda always succeeds and the Honda-McLaren partnership in the '80s is something that we intend to reproduce," Dennis added.

Judge us after Melbourne

Indeed despite admitting the first test perhaps didn't go as well as hoped, as the team completed less than 80 laps over the four days compared to Mercedes who managed over 500, the long-time head of the McLaren Group intends for us all to hold our judgements until the first Grand Prix in Australia in just over a month's time.

But what should we consider a success for McLaren come Sunday evening on March 15th in Melbourne?

It will be measured in two ways, reliability and pace, if the car is quick, by that I would say capable of fighting for a top eight finish then that would be considered a success regardless of reliability because as we saw last year that will certainly come with time, if the car is slow but reliable then it would be clear their aggressive push hasn't been aggressive enough, but if its slow and unreliable then the talk of replicating the glory days will seem very distant at least in the short-term.

Of course the one possibility I missed out is quick and reliable and if that is the case then the McLaren-Honda partnership really is a mystical and as incredible as those of us who don't remember the late 80's- early 90's were told it was, however, for that to be a consideration there will have to be a lot of improvement at the final two tests in Barcelona before we can consider it a worthy option.

Senna name back at McLaren

On a final note the return of the McLaren-Honda name in F1 is now coinciding with the return of another famous name to Woking.

Bruno Senna, the nephew of the great Ayrton Senna, has joined McLaren's GT programme. The former Williams driver has been racing in the WEC and Formula E and will be helping development of the new 650S GT3 car as well as driving at certain endurance events.

In the announcement, reported by ESPN, the Brazilian also recognised the history McLaren and his family had before expressing his enthusiasm for his new role.

"It is a great honour for me to be joining McLaren; a team my uncle enjoyed such huge success with, and one of the most famous names in motorsport," Senna said. "2015 is a big year for the whole of McLaren, and it is an exciting time to be part of everything that is taking place.

"I am looking forward to working with the team at McLaren GT who I had a chance to get to know when I raced at the Spa 24 hour a couple of years ago, and I am really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the new 650S.

"A lot of effort has gone into the development of the car since the 12C GT3, which I raced, and it made a big impression on its debut at the end of last season. It is shaping up to be a big year ahead."

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