There’s nothing to see here, nothing apart from a steward walking towards a stranded McLaren stopped out on the track. The simple fact that the hard-working marshal is moving faster than the Honda powered McLaren is neither worrying nor a damning indictment of the problems facing the team.
We’re getting all to used to seeing this happening in the last two weeks.
Eric Boullier walks out to the press with a tired expression on his face. What more can he say than what he has already said? The Power Unit needs a bit of work. They can still work on the aero. No, they are not splitting from Honda. Yes, this is as bad as 2015. No, Fernando isn’t leaving. Yes, McLaren Honda can beat Sauber – but he really had to think about that one.
HANG ON. It’s as bad as 2015?
That does not bode well; in 2015 McLaren finished 9th out of 10 teams and only managed to beat Manor because Manor didn’t score a single point. It wasn’t really a good year. They lost sponsors and it was almost embarrassing to see the pit crew in overalls which were nearly devoid of any branding.
We know that Honda have brought in a budget and are happy to pay for their share of the running at the moment, but last time Honda tried to do that, they had to pull out just before it got good.
The Honda earth dreams car is a prime example. They had a Honda and a Bridgestone badge on the nose cone, then a whole car filled with a picture of the earth. No sponsorship at all. They ran out of money and then having sold the team to Ross Brawn, Jenson wins the Championship and we all cheer.
Just how long will the Honda board hang on this time around, they are already two years into the partnership and not seeing a single positive thing out of the press this last two weeks, was not the plan.
Aside from the Honda and McLaren show, there has been some brilliant pace from Ferrari and everyone, ourselves included assume that this means that Ferrari are going to be able to challenge the Mercedes boys. Oh please, a multi-team battle for the championship? We haven’t seen that since…well 2012 Vettel beat Alonso by 3 points and that’s as close as it’s been for a while.
The issue with Ferrari leading the testing sessions is that they have done this before. Last year for example and we all know how that turned out. The Ferrari set a time 0.257 seconds faster than the Mercedes in 2016 pre-season, then Vettel went on to be 0.842 seconds behind Hamilton in qualifying.
So this year with Ferrari posting times 0.286 seconds faster than the Mercedes, we shouldn’t treat it as gospel that they are going to be topping the time sheets in Melbourne.