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Honda "want joy in F1" as McLaren partnership hits a new low in Austria

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Honda "want joy in F1" as McLaren partnership hits a new low in Austria
Jun 21, 2015, 5:00 PM

Honda's F1 chief has reiterated the company's faith in the partnership with McLaren, after the company's new president witnessed a new low in Austr...

Honda's F1 chief has reiterated the company's faith in the partnership with McLaren, after the company's new president witnessed a new low in Austria with heavy power unit change penalties and a double retirement in the early stages of the Grand Prix.

To be competitive, but unreliable is one thing. To be reliable, but uncompetitive is another. But to be both uncompetitive and unreliable - especially after eight rounds - is rock bottom in F1 terms.

And although there is continued optimism that this is the right route for both partners, there is no point any of the key members denying that this is now a full blown crisis.

Fernando Alonso crashed the updated short nose chassis on the opening lap while Jenson Button was asked to retire his old spec car a few laps later.

But motorsport chief Yasuhisa Arai says that the Honda board is firmly behind the project and everyone believes that they will challenge the pace setters in the sport. He also said that the reliability problems are "almost fixed".

McLaren have just four points after eight rounds, by some margin their worst ever start to an F1 season while double world champion Fernando Alonso is still pointless.

It was expected that the new partnership would start with a deficit, as Honda only committed to F1 in spring 2013, while Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari committed when the V6 hybrid turbo rules were drawn up in 2011.

Button

But the return after eight races is far worse than expected; it's clear that there is a huge push to develop, with McLaren pressing ahead with the short nose car this weekend, but Honda has clearly taken a direction in the last few months to try to chase power, which has led to greater unreliability.

Button admitted after his retirement from the race that it was hard to keep coming up with positive media messages even though the team believes improvement will come and they remain motivated.

"You’ve just got to stay positive," said Button. "Everybody back at the factory listens to our post-race interviews, and both Fernando and I want to keep everyone motivated."

“Honda want Formula One, we want joy in Formula One," Arai said in Austria. "They believe, the chief executive and the board members, they think we need time to win and it is a long-term vision. They don’t doubt our success in the future.

“In races something has happened every day but the major troubles are already fixed and over the second half of the season I expect we will have more progress.

“I think that we will catch up most of the top teams because we already have a plan to increase the horsepower, drivability and control system. We have already planned to apply that in the second half of the season.”

In Canada Alonso complained of being made to look like an 'amateur' because Honda's higher fuel consumption meant that he had to lift from early in the race and while he was battling to keep cars behind him.

In Austria both world champion drivers were hit with 25 place penalties before the race, which not only meant starting at the back, but also taking time penalties in the race.

"These are difficult days for all at McLaren-Honda, in Woking as well as in Sakura, but we won’t let our heads drop," said McLaren racing director Eri Boullier. "Okay, I admit it, the going is getting tough; but.. when the going gets tough, the tough get going."

Alonso's race was ended when Raikkonen lost control of the Ferrari ahead of him on the exit of Turn 2 on the opening lap, slewing left and collecting Alonso behind, Alonso ended up on top of the scarlet car in the barriers.

"I started well today and made a lot of places," said Alonso. "Kimi had the prime tyre and he exited T1 with wheelspin and he lost the car on the left and I was on the left so we went both on the wall and I was lucky not to hit him on the head. It was very strange, he lost the car in fifth gear, obviously low grip."

As for team morale he said, "It's just team work, we need now. the expectations of McLaren and Honda combination is higher than what we are achieving now but we are moving in the right direction and inside the team we know the plans for the near future and we are optimistic that things will change quickly. We don't know if it will take two races or six race, but definitely not longer than that."

The accident triggered a Safety Car and Button was asked to stop the car a few laps afterwards with an intake sensor failure.

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