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Boullier: We didn’t turn up in Australia with the car we wanted

McLaren endured a problem packed preseason testing, their first running with Renault power, but were quick to assure all and sundry that these were minor glitches and that all would be sorted by the start of the season in Australia.

Melbourne has come and gone as has Bahrain and China, but the Woking outfit are still nowhere near to where they expected to be and have since admitted that they were too conservative in their targets with the MCL33.

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Now it transpires that their ‘real’ 2018 car will finally break cover at the Spanish Grand Prix.

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier admitted, “We didn’t turn up in Australia with the car we wanted because we were delayed for some reasons so a lot of parts and upgrades are on their way to hit the track,” said Eric Boullier, McLaren’s racing director.

“For logistical reasons, it’s very likely going to be in Barcelona and from that point we will see performance wise where we are.”

So much was expected of the team after ditching Honda. At the time McLaren bosses were bullish, talking a good race and bravely targeting Red Bull as the benchmark team to beat.

“We think we have the tools that we need so podiums are what we are going to be going for, whether that’s the third, second or first step – hopefully, it’s a combination of all the above. I would like to think that we are going to have a chance at winning,” declared team chief Zak Brown earlier this year.

As they say ‘talk is cheap, money buys the whiskey’ which applies aptly to how things have panned out for the team whose drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne have a car at their disposal which is the slowest of the Renault brigade.

As a solo Honda-powered team last year their claims of having the best chassis could never be verified, indeed if that was the case then they have taken a huge step backwards with their current piece of kit.

Now the team can be measured against a leading team (Red Bull) and a top of the midfield team (Renault) – the harsh reality is they are lagging behind both and have fallen well short of their own expectations.

Boullier acknowledged, “We have the same engine as Renault and Red Bull and we are behind.”

“There is no hiding, we need to understand why we are slower in qualifying, why we were better in the race and why we are behind the other Renault teams. Full stop.”

“There were some questions asked in Bahrain and there is still an ongoing process because we have to address it, we will address it and we’re about to address it.”

“We all know that Formula 1 is not the easiest sport, so it’s difficult, and we are definitely not happy where we are today. We have a lot coming in the pipeline so hopefully it’s going to help us catch up a little bit the gap we have,” added Boullier.

Big Question: Will McLaren challenge for wins before this season is out?