McLaren-Honda's decision to go aggressive with its "size zero" concept was the right thing to do, claims racing director Eric Boullier, despite the troubles the team has faced this season.
The Woking-based outfit endured a difficult time as engine partner Honda struggled on its return to Formula 1, and the team got to grips with a new aerodynamic philosophy.
Its troubles came after McLaren elected to go ultra-aggressive with its packaging of both the engine and bodywork - in a move that some have suggested may have been too ambitious for the first year of its renewed Honda partnership.
But Boullier says that being conservative was not an option for the team, because the only way it will beat Mercedes in the future is if it pushes everything to the limit.
When asked if "size zero" had been too much too soon, Boullier said: “We will see. Don't forget, during the season we could not change everything we wanted to [on the engine].
“One of the basic elements involving recovery [of energy] from the engine was not delivering what was expected, and that did hurt us a lot – because it costs seconds per lap during the race.
“But in principle – if you want to beat Mercedes, you have to do something better. So the way we decided to design and work was to go another path. Over ambitious? I think it is too early to say it is. We have to wait.”
Boullier is also adamant that McLaren's desire for tight packaging at the rear of the car did not lead Honda to make any compromises with the design of its power unit.
“It never impacted on the engine at all,” he said. “We told them we wanted the tightest car as possible. But we never imposed on them in terms of size of whatever.”
Gain from pain
Although the relationship between McLaren and Honda became strained at time, Boullier thinks that the partnership has come through its difficulties in better shape.
“Maybe in the pain you build a stronger relationship with your partner,” he said. “With Honda, we have a much more mature relationship.
“The positive as well is that Honda understood the commitment they need to be winning one day. They have readjusted a little bit their resources level, which is good, so there are some positives out of this.
“As for the company itself, McLaren, we have regrouped together and we have changed what we needed to change in the way we operate.
“If you look at the performance over the season, we have caught up on the top guys. We caught up with restricted regulations, so there are some positives in some way.
“But we have had to take the pain together and we will come out of this mess much stronger, and much more efficient as a one-team act.”