McLaren 'ready to win again' in Formula 1
Honda expect to match Mercedes' power output in 2017
By William Esler
Last Updated: 03/10/16 9:06am
McLaren are ready to win again according to racing director Eric Boullier and Honda say they expect to match Mercedes' power output in 2017.
The Woking team are currently enduring the worst period in their history and haven't won a race since Jenson Button stood atop the podium in Brazil in 2012.
But Honda engine boss Yusuke Hasegawa says it's their "expectation" that their 2017 power unit will match Mercedes in terms of outright power.
Asked by F1 Racing Magazine if McLaren we ready to win again, Boullier replied: "Of course we are. I think we are more than ever."
The Frenchman has overseen a change in philosophy at McLaren since joining the team in 2014, stating they "were an engineering company enjoying an engineering challenge".
But with regulations limiting in-season development, McLaren could no longer engineer their way back to competitiveness if they started the season off the pace.
"We had to decide on a concept that we believed would be a winning one and develop it over the years, not just months," added Boullier.
"That is what Red Bull have been doing for seven years, Mercedes for five years.
"When you take an average of all the races, we are fighting with Ferrari in terms of chassis. Red Bull and Mercedes are better than us, but we are the best of the rest."
And if Honda can find a horsepower boost for 2017, then McLaren can be more aggressive in their aerodynamics when the new regulations are introduced next year.
"We have to be very efficient aerodynamically. If you bring downforce you can't bring drag," said Boullier.
"If you have Mercedes power, you can change you aggressiveness in car development."
Honda's power unit currently houses the turbine and the compressor inside the vee of the engine, but it is thought they will switch to the Mercedes layout next year of a compressor at the front and turbine at the rear of the engine, allowing for a bigger turbo.
"It's hard to realise," said Hasegawa. "That is why Ferrari and Renault don't create it. That is why I can't tell if we can realise it."
However, Hasegawa does "believe" that Honda can close the gap to Mercedes no matter what layout they opt for.
"At least I would like to start with the same power level," he added. "That is the first target, even though on the size or weight or centre of gravity, or especially the reliability, it is difficult to achieve the same level."
In the cockpit there is optimism as well with Fernando Alonso confident he is in the right place to win another drivers' championship.
"We are going in the right direction," said the Spaniard.
"In terms of driving, or competiveness, or in terms of my third world championship hopes, either you drive a Mercedes or a McLaren-Honda in the future. That's my opinion, my feeling."