With the start of the new Formula One season less than a week away, McLaren-Honda are certainly curious to see how they compare with their rivals on the track.
Preseason testing can only reveal so much, most of the time. It’s about calibrating and reliability and aerodynamics, but rarely about unleashing all your engine power and going around the track as fast as it is mechanically possible.
With such a disappointing season last year, McLaren is looking forward to having their new and improved MP4-31 race car on the track in Australia, where they’ll finish what they’ve started in Barcelona a few weeks back.
“We are certainly a step ahead of where we were this time last year in terms of preparation,” said the team’s racing director Eric Boullier. “We have much more mileage under our belts and we’ve performed most of the necessary system checks that we were still working on during race weekends in 2015.”
While that does sound very positive, the fact remains that McLaren is still a little behind in terms of preparation, and that’s not something fans are going to be extremely pleased about, especially after such a frustrating first year to the team’s rekindled partnership with Honda.
“We didn’t manage to complete our final configuration and set-up work for the first race, so we go to Melbourne with a number of unknowns. It won’t be an easy start to the weekend in that sense, since we’ll need to concentrate on setting the car up for each session and readying the final specification of our package as soon as we get to Albert Park. Since the final pre-season test, there’s been a huge effort back in Woking to bring new parts to Australia and it’ll be good to finally get to the track on Friday and see how we fare,” added Boullier.
From what we’ve learned so far, the car should certainly prove faster and more reliable than the old MP4-30, though how it will stack up compared to the likes of Toro Rosso or Force India (middle of the pack teams), remains to be seen.
During Friday’s practice session, the teams will show a lot more pace than they did during preseason, and we’ll learn more and more about where McLaren stand as we inch closer to the start of the race on Sunday.