McLaren's Eric Boullier is convinced that the worst of the team's 'pain' with Honda is now behind it, on the back of early data suggesting its 2016 Formula 1 car is already performing better than its predecessor.
Revisions being planned to the areas of weakness on the Honda power unit are expected to deliver a significant step forward in pace next year, with the outfit having been unable to make the necessary changes over the course of this season.
And, allied to encouraging figures from the McLaren wind-tunnel about its 2016 challenger, Boullier thinks that the ingredients and resources are there for its partnership with Honda to flourish.
“If you want to beat Mercedes you need to be better than them,” Boullier told Motorsport.com. “They have brilliant engineers, brilliant mechanics, a brilliant car, a brilliant engine, and brilliant drivers. It is tough to beat them.
“We have the same I think: we have the best mechanics, the best engineers, and the best drivers – but still not the best car and still not the best engine. So we need to work on these last two ones.
“We had to change the philosophy of McLaren itself to bring back the performance on track. But we also had to change engine partner, because you cannot beat the world champion if you are a customer – it is impossible.
“The path to go with another engine manufacturer to be a works team was absolutely the way to go. The commitment Honda showed us, the facilities they have in Japan, clearly, you cannot ignore that. This is exactly what we are looking for.
“It is true that the marriage came a little bit earlier [than was ideal], but we had to do it and jump off of the cliff anyway.
"So, yes we have had to take huge pain, and it has been very painful, but I believe from next year already we will be much more competitive. And then you are back to the real race on track.”
Boullier says one of the key factors that makes him upbeat about 2016 is that Honda has understood what went wrong this season – and accepts that things have to change.
When asked why he maintained belief in the partnership, Boullier said: “I think because of the maturity of the relationship we have with Honda - and the understanding of the mistakes that they have been doing. Plus I know what they are planning to do.
“Also now, we scratched the concept of the car last year so we started clearly in the dark. Now, after one year, you can check everything to see the trend of performance and see that we are catching up.
“I know next year's car is already better than the car we have on track now. So next year will be another step where we will be performing more.
“Everything is going to be better. But I am not talking about podiums or specific results – I am just saying we will be more competitive.”