McLaren-Honda had a fairly miserable 2015 F1 season owing to teething problems with the new Honda powerplant. Both team boss Ron Dennis and driver Fernando Alonso have been bullish on McLaren-Honda’s return to glory, and their bullishness might not be misplaced, according to a new report.
Honda engineers have reportedly increased the power of its 2016 F1 powerplant by 223 horsepower over its 2015 unit, according to anonymous sources speaking to Spanish publication As. It’s said that Honda engineers worked 24-hour shifts at its Sakura R&D facility and didn’t take holidays off.
In 2015, Honda’s internal-combustion F1 engine was down 70 horsepower on its competition and its energy recovery system (ERS), which lets drivers deploy an additional 163 electric horsepower for 33 seconds, was virtually unusable. These engine troubles rendered McLaren-Honda entirely uncompetitive, placing second to last in the constructors championship.
On a long straight, the 2015 McLaren-Honda F1 car was effectively short 230 horsepower on its competition. Honda engineers have compensated for that deficit by increasing turbo boost and revising the cooling system for the ERS, according to As.
In an interview last month, McLaren boss Ron Dennis said that McLaren engineers were working weekends over the holiday to get the car ready for the 2016 season. It seems as though that is the case both in Woking, where McLaren is based and Sakura. Driver Fernando Alonso recently told press that he thinks McLaren will gain over two seconds per lap over 2015 if Honda gets the power unit right.
With a formidable driver lineup, things might be looking up for McLaren, but of course, we’ll have to wait until testing begins to say that definitively. According to As, the Honda powerplant has only been tested in simulation.
If McLaren-Honda can stage a comeback, the 2016 season should be a refreshing change of pace for Mercedes-dominated F1.