Honda lacked direct F1 experience: Brown

Honda lacked direct F1 experience: Brown

Honda’s struggle in the past few years was like the troubles Jaguar faced during its failed Formula 1 venture in the early 2000s, says McLaren boss Zak Brown.

McLaren parted ways with Honda from 2018 after the Japanese company couldn’t deliver a competitive engine.

The British team believes Honda was too slow to accept the current F1 experience to speed up the engine development. The Japanese manufacturer was too insular in its partnership.

Brown said Honda found it hard to accept the F1 culture and there were “a lot of little reasons” the Japanese company could not get things done with McLaren.

Honda’s case is similar to that of Jaguar which joined F1 in the 2000s and spent too much time in overseeing its operations from the United States rather than immerse itself in the F1 lifestyle.

While speaking at the launch of Autosport International 2018, Brown said: “Eric [Boullier, McLaren racing director] spoke earlier in the year about how there’s a certain way you have to operate in Formula 1 – a Formula 1 culture, and I think that’s something they [Honda] now recognise,”

“You kind of saw the same thing with Jaguar, when they came in. They kind of did it the corporate way.

“If you look at Mercedes, they’re not based in Germany – the race team’s in England, the engine facility is in England; Renault is split between England and France.

“I think maybe some more Formula 1 experience, direct experience, is probably what they [Honda] were lacking most.

“It certainly wasn’t effort, resources – the facility is great, and I think they’ll get it right. It’s more a ways of working. I think they’ll get there, but three years was as long as we could wait.”

In spite of the many reliability issues that plagued Renault engine in 2017, Brown is confident that the French power unit will do well in their cars this season.

“They’ve got the power,” Brown said. “They’ve got some reliability issues when they turn the power up.

“Mexico was a setting issue, but Max [Verstappen] did win the race in pretty dominant fashion, so they’ve got a fast engine.

“I actually think the top three [engines] are pretty close and have all won races last year, so there’s clearly not that big of a deficit between those three.

“We have some areas we can improve, we’re not perfect, but the lack of power was the single biggest area of weakness, so I think when we get the Renault in the back we should see a substantial difference in Australia.

“We’re happy with our working relationship with Renault, and we should hopefully get back to where people are used to seeing McLaren at the front of the field.”

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