Racing director Eric Boullier said McLaren’s 32 laps on Tuesday were a “huge relief” after tracking down and fixing the problem that kept the team from running more than 12 laps on the first two days of testing in Jerez.
Even though the day was stopped short when a water leak popped up and forced the team to remove the Honda engine, Boullier said McLaren counted Tuesday’s efforts as progress. The team is expecting to be running again on Wednesday morning.
“It was very important and a huge relief,” Boullier said. “Ever since last night we are a little bit happier after the last lap of Jenson [on Monday] because we believed we had fixed the issues, but as I said yesterday, sometimes you just open the Pandora’s box and you pick up one and another one is coming. This morning it was just a relief to see the car getting out of the garage at 9:00 and running actually faultlessly for a few hours.”
Boullier said McLaren could have got the car back out on track at the end of the day but the team decided to focus its efforts on Wednesday.
“[Today] was a completely different. The reason why we didn’t run in the afternoon is different. It’s a third party component that created a water cooling leak. We had to take the engine open and everything to change it because it’s in the middle. We could have run, maybe, half an hour at the end of the day but we decided to stop the day and run properly tomorrow. The main issues are now away.”
However, to give an indication of how far behind McLaren is at this stage, Boullier said the team had completed less than 50% of its target for this test.
“It’s not enough, obviously. We are maybe less than 50%. But it’s better than nothing and at least operationally we have covered everything we wanted. The good thing as well is that the car is running, as you saw in the morning, 10 laps in a row so we have no design concept or conceptual issues or architectural issues with the car. The cooling is working, everything is fine.”
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Eric Boullier says the re-capture of Peter Prodromou from Red Bull is the “final part of the puzzle”
Prodromou, who re-joined McLaren as chief engineer in September after eight years as a chief aerodynamicist at Red Bull, has already been credited with helping the Woking team end 2014 strongly in terms of aerodynamic development.
He will have far greater influence over the MP4-30 – the first car of the new McLaren-Honda works engine partnership, and the team’s racing director Boullier described Prodromou as a key asset as McLaren attempts to end a win drought that stretches back to 2012.
“He is definitely a key signing – all the aero department has been restructured bearing in mind I knew he was coming,” Boullier told AUTOSPORT.
“In the back of the mind we knew that Podromou would be like the cherry on the top of the cake.
“His name is very famous in the pitlane and he has brought a lot of freshness and extra leadership in the aero and technical departments.
“Everybody was placed, we were just waiting for the master to sit down.
“Now they click together and we have a strong group led by Peter.
“He is the final part of the puzzle.”
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McLaren racing director Eric Boullier admits his team’s struggle to get its new Honda power unit up and running in Abu Dhabi was “not good enough”, but said there were some positives to draw from the two day test.
Over 18 hours of track time, McLaren successfully completed three laps and came up short on two more due to on-track issues. The team’s main problems were electrical and on its final attempt on Wednesday afternoon the car came to halt on the first lap of a four-lap run.
“It was still an electrical issue,” Boullier said. “We fixed a couple of them overnight and today and on the first installation lap the car ran quite well and with no problem at all. When hitting the track again on a longer run the car just blacked out completely.
“It happens to some different cars this year and sometimes nobody know why, so we had this problem. We just brought the car back and after investigating for 20 minutes we couldn’t wake the car up again, so we just said ‘stop’. The car will now be sent back to Woking for a full investigation.”
Boullier admitted McLaren’s two day test has not met expectations, but said it was better to get the issues out of the way this week instead of encountering them at the first test of 2015 in Jerez.
“It’s obviously not what we wanted to achieve. Our target was to run the car on track, to run all the systems, and we were not expecting here to develop anything other than trying all the systems. We didn’t achieve this, so we failed on this.
“Yes, it’s a still a bonus because going into such a test in Jerez and having the same problems would hurt us much more. At least both Honda and McLaren have worked very hard to make this hybrid car and come here. Operationally we went through a lot and when we were not running, we were dismantling the car in multiple parts and at least we learned a lot about processes and what could be wrong in the future.
“Yes, it’s not good enough and we are not happy with that, but at least we learned things which are important to be prepared for the next one.”
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