Even the most casual Formula One fan can tell McLaren-Honda is off the pace in 2017. But there’s no way to truly understand how slow the team is without comparing its performance to one of the frontrunners.
With F1 freeing up power unit development for 2017 by ditching the engine token system, many suspected Honda might make enough gains to move McLaren up the grid. Instead, the Japanese manufacturer’s redesigned power unit has left Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne fighting at the back of the midfield, and often retiring with reliability issues.
In a video posted to Driver61.com‘s YouTube channel Thursday, Scott Mansell — no relation to former world champion Nigel Mansell — analyzes McLaren’s speed from qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix and Mercedes-AMG Petronas’. To truly compare the W06 EQ Power+ against the MCL32 without any other variables, Mansell used Lewis Hamilton and Alonso’s, their respective teams’ top drivers.
Unlike in the past, when McLaren admitted its chassis was partly to blame for the teams’ lack of performance, Mansell’s analysis suggests responsibility in 2017 rests solely on Honda’s shoulders. The speed difference between Alonso and Hamilton at the end of Shanghai International Circuit’s straights consistently was 11 kph (roughly 6.8 mph), and that’s all down to horsepower.
If Alonso is able to match Hamilton’s speed in most corners, and exceed it in others, the chassis is clearly up to snuff. As a result, if McLaren does end up switching to Mercedes power units mid-season, the team could well fight for podiums. Though its working with Honda to secure Alonso’s Indianapolis 500 entry suggests it won’t actually happen.
Thumbnail photo via Honda