McLaren-Honda retain hope of ending 2017 Formula 1 struggle
Boullier says his "faith" increased that improvements will happen soon for Honda-engined team; McLaren rule out Mercedes return
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 08/05/17 10:17am
McLaren and Honda remain optimistic of pulling themselves out of their early-season slump despite another grim weekend for the partnership in Russia.
McLaren are rooted to the bottom of the Constructors' Championship after the season's opening flyaway rounds with their two Honda-powered cars registering just two race finishes out of a possible eight so far.
With unreliability plaguing the MCL32, Stoffel Vandoorne has already partly exceeded his penalty-free engine element usage for the whole season, while Fernando Alonso has yet to see the chequered flag.
But team chief Eric Boullier insists the situation is not irretrievable for 2017 and that both team and engine provider are working as hard as they can to deliver heavily-improved performance.
"We have to be the best ourselves before we see the global picture," McLaren's racing director said. "Honda are doing the same and we try to work as hard as possible to make sure we will catch up.
McLaren's high engine usage after four races
|Power unit element||Alonso||Vandoorne|
|*Grid penalties applied every time more than four elements used|
"I've got great faith that we will be much better this year. I don't know exactly when yet, but I start to develop better faith in this hope."
Speculation in recent weeks has suggested Honda have sought the help of external consultants, including Mercedes and renowned engine specialists Ilmor, in a bid to turn their F1 fortunes around.
Although engine boss Yusuke Hasegawa said he would not disclose any such details, he promised that Honda "are trying everything" to catch up since the start of the year.
"There are many programmes ongoing simultaneously so that we see some updates in a few races when we expect to catch up some level of performance," said Hasegawa.
Meanwhile, despite Honda's problems, McLaren have dismissed speculation a return to Mercedes power is on the cards for 2018.
"No Mercedes in the back of our car," Zak Brown, McLaren's executive director, told Sky Sports News HQ when asked if they could reunite with their former providers for next year.
Three years into their troubled return to F1, Honda announced in Sochi they will supply a second team with engines in 2018 after striking a customer deal with Sauber.
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