Not having a works Formula 1 engine hurts the top teams claims McLaren Sporting Director Eric Boullier, whose own team is using customer Mercedes engines for the final year ahead of their switch to Honda in 2015.
Speaking to journalists during a phone-in, Boullier said, “Having a works engine allows you to play, let’s say, with much more set-up possibilities than if you have a customer engine.
“We can just take this year’s example, if you just compare Mercedes GP and Red Bull Racing, we all know the Red Bull Racing chassis is very good, maybe slightly better than the Mercedes one, but the big difference between both is that Red Bull has a Renault engine, which is not a works engine,” explained the Frenchman.
With the Honda partnership looming Boullier is confident that the partnership is on schedule, “It takes months, even years, to build it up, so you have a clear schedule in place and some clear tiers to target. So far I think everything is in order and matching the fact that we have until next year to race.”
McLaren have been the worst of the Mercedes powered customer teams so far this season and lag behind Force India and Williams in the championship standings, largely because the MP4-29 has been a woeful chassis, making life in the cockpit for Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen extremely tough.
However Boullier is adamant that next year’s car will be different as his influence on the structure at the team’s Woking headquarters will start to impact on the team.
“I have the confidence that we will have a good car from next year, just because we addressed all the issues internally and I believe that we made the right changes. We have seen already from Austria the first benefit of the changes we have done in the organisation and now we are heading in the right direction.”
Honda’s Formula 1 adventure started as a full-fledged team in 1964, and lasted until 1968. During that time, it won two races.
Then from 1983, as a supplier of engines to the likes of McLaren, Williams and Lotus, it won 69 races and with the McLaren Honda alliance they conquered Formula 1 from 1988 to 1991 with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. Honda pulled out in 1992.
After an eight-year hiatus, Honda returned as an engine supplier and then part-owner of the BAR team from 2000 to 2005. In 2006 it took full control of the team and renamed it Honda, but after three years of little success they departed the Formula 1 scene at the end of 2008. (GP247)