Matt Morris on the radical McLaren-Honda MP4-30 | 2015 F1 season

Posted on Feb 10, 2015

Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Circuito de Jerez, 2015McLaren?s director of engineering Matt Morris answered the media?s question on the progress of McLaren?s new Honda-powered MP4-30 in the first test at Jerez on Tuesday.

What have you learned about the car so far?
?Today [Tuesday, day three of the test] we?ve been doing a lot of aero work, checking the car at lots of different settings so we canget some correlation data back to the guys at the factory just to check that everything?s working as we expect on the aero today.?

Following the Abu Dhabi test, did you expect to still be facing so many problems?
?We basically came out of Abu Dhabi with two or three pretty big problems which we?ve actually sorted. So we?re confident here that we?re going to have a pretty trouble-free time. Unfortunately we?ve had a few issues, they?re been sort of small, annoying issues, no major problems, but it?s meant that we?ve been sat in the garage quite a long time.?

There seems to have been no burning of the rear bodywork ? is that because you haven?t run the engine to its maximum temperature?
?I think we?ve done a good job running at temperatures that we expect from that cooling package, it?s been a big tick in the box really so that proves the hard work we?ve done on that tight packaging has paid off and we haven?t got any issues. It?s a good positive to take away.?

What was the cause of the stoppage on Tuesday morning?
?We had a bit of an operational issue with oil level this morning, again an annoying little problem which lost us two hours, but now we?re up and running we?re just working through an aero programme.?

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Do you anticipate making a lot of major changes before the Barcelona test?
?The sort of main car architecture works. We?ve obviously got this super-tight rear end which works so sort of structurally and systems-wise we don?t plan on making any changes. The changes that we will make will be reactively easy changes: bodywork, wings, floor, those sorts of changes. So we?ve got those things planned for the next couple of tests and then going into Melbourne.?

Will your experience with this car lead to changes in the next chassis?
?No, no, so they?re already built.?
How many, for instance?
?More than one. ?

What steps are coming for Barcelona from Honda?
?They?ve basically got upgrades coming sort of every day at every test, really. Obviously we?ve got a target of Melbourne and yeah we?ll sort of get there as soon as we can but there?s no concerns we won?t get there it?s just sort of taking everything step by step, really.?

Jenson Button, McLaren, Circuito de Jerez, 2015In spite of only doing 35-40 laps, is it possible to make first evaluation of the power unit?
?We?ve got some really good feedback for Honda. Jenson [Button?s] just been doing these aero runs today and he?s been constantly giving feedback to Honda.

?It?s to be expected, it?s a new power unit, we?re a very new team, so all that information?s constantly being fed into the Honda engineers, back to Japan, they?re constantly doing updates, putting them back in the car, so that?s just going to be an ongoing process for the rest of the day here today and the next two Barcelona tests.

?So like I say it?s just sort of what we did last year, repeating it all again with a new engine partner so it?s nothing unexpected really.?

How much of the things you wanted to do here can you do on the simulator dynos?
?There?s lots of things we can do on the simulator and on the dynos. The main thing coming out of this test was to check that the sort of car architecture, the package worked. That was absolutely key because obviously if we?ve got a problem there it?s a lot of work involved in changing coolers and installation.

?So actually the main aim was to come here, check that, which we?ve done. And we?ll continue developing in the simulator, obviously got all the new aero bits coming for the next two tests so we?ll be pretty busy over the new few weeks/month.?

Have you solved the problems from the first days?
?We?re still carrying a few issues both from our side and Honda?s side. But again we?ve got a plan in place to get all of those fixed before Melbourne.?

Does the ERS work?
?Yes, everything?s working pretty well so again we?re sort of going through, learning different strategies, repeating what we did last year. So the deployment and harvesting strategy is again just new to Honda so we?re just going through the motions, testing a lot of different settings. But no, in terms of its functionality it?s all working fine.?

Will your lack of running at Jerez affect the plan for Melbourne?
?No. We basically had to slim our aero programme down, we had a lot more planned. But due to the lack of running we sat down last night and cut that down to what we really needed to do today. And it looks like we?re going to have a good day today so I?m sure we?ll get through all that.

?And that?ll give us enough information then to sort of back up what we?re doing back at the factory and if we obviously need to make any changes then we can make those changes based on the data we get today. It would be nice if we?d got some more running but like I say we?ve got the really important stuff done.?

Are the rear suspension wishbones a hangover from last year or are they optimised around the aero you want this year?
?What we?ve done is we?ve sort of designed a rear suspension layout that gives us options to do different things, shall I say, so obviously at the moment we?re not running the same spec as we did but with the layout we?ve got it allows us flexibility if we want to test some different things.

Jenson Button, McLaren, Circuito de Jerez, 2015What?s the impact of loss of front-rear inter-connected suspension ? are you trying different things with hydraulics?
?We?ve changed a little bit but to be honest that change happened mid-season last year so we did most of the changes then. We?ve pretty much carried over sort of suspension layouts, if you like, from where we finished last year. We?re not making huge changes.?

Are you confident you can start ?15 where you finished ?14, as Eric Boullier has indicated he wants?
?We?re still confident we can do that. Obviously we?re not running at full speed at the moment so we?ve got to make sure we get on top of the issues we?ve got. But if we do get on top of those issues there?s no reason why we can?t be performing where we were at the end of last year.?

Is there anything from last year?s car which fits on the new one?
?There?s quite a bit of stuff that?s carried over. I mean obviously designers like to design new parts but we do obviously to carry over things that don?t bring performance and we can save money on.

?So there?s a decent percentage of parts that have carried over but obviously with the new power unit that?s forced us to change ? well, not ?forced? ? but we?ve taken the opportunity to change quite a lot of things, particularly in the integration, how the chassis integrates into the engine and how the engine integrates into the gearbox. So that?s very different from last year.?

How different is it working with Honda instead of Mercedes?
?It?s clearly very different because the culture is very different.

?But it?s also ? they?re a great bunch of guys, the more and more we work with them the closer and closer we become. Clearly last year was a bit difficult because we were sort of on our way out with Mercedes so Mercedes? you can?t fault them, they were very professional, but obviously they only gave us the information they really, really had to give us.

?The big difference this year is we?ve got a much closer relationship with Honda which is allowed us to help them and them help us in terms of how the integration and how we design the engine. So from an engineering point of view that?s been massively beneficial. And like I say the relationship?s really great and every day that we have a problem we get all sort of together and develop an even stronger relationship based on us all mucking together, really.?

Is the language barrier an issue?
?No, all the engineers that we?ve got track side speak pretty good English and also when we?re out, I?ve spent quite a lot of time out in Sakura, pretty much all the main engineers speak very good English so there?s no issues there.?

Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Circuito de Jerez, 2015How do you rate Fernando Alonso?s commitment?
?Fernando?s been absolutely itching to get in the car for the last few months. It?s been a frustrating few days for him but he?s happy, I think he?s going to push us on as a team, just his sort of motivation levels when he?s in the garage, when he?s in the office, in the simulator, is massively high.

?And obviously that knocks on to everybody else, really, pushes everybody else on. So really looking forward to this year.?

What is the nature of the problems you are facing?
?We?ve had a number of problems, like I say we?ve had some operational issues, just all working as a team together for the first time, things you take for granted when you?ve been with an engine supplier for many years, you sort of drop the ball a little bit sometimes like I say getting oil levels wrong, all these sorts of things, so we?ve had a few issues like that.

?We?ve also had some minor electrical issues again which have resulted in a lot of down time but have actually been relatively easy to fix. So it?s good in a way that they?re easy to fix but frustrating in another way that they sort of hold the car up for so long.

?So the main thing is we?ve not been burning bodywork, we?ve not been blowing engines up so I?m pretty happy that we?re going to come out of this test with no sort of major issues to resolve.?

Has it forced any changes to the test programmes for Barcelona?
?I don?t think it?s going to change much at all, really. Like I say the problems that we?ve had have been minor and we?ve fixed them. Obviously we?ll try and cram as much ? because we had a huge programme of aero and set-up work that we?ve just not covered ? so we?ll just try and cram as much as we can into that.

?But essentially we have got time to do that so I?m not really concerned about the amount of time we?ve lost.?

Jenson Button, McLaren, Circuito de Jerez, 2015Can the team realistically finish the first race of the championship?
?Absolutely. That?s the plan!?

Is it realistic?
?Yes of course it?s realistic. Absolutely.?

Will the problems during this test lead you to take a more conservative step with the engine?
?No. Like I say a lot of the problems we?ve had have been quite small problems so they?re not sort of big, fundamental engine change ? it?s sort of wires and pipes, all those sorts of things, are very easy to fix so we don?t have those sort of concerns in terms of homologating the engine.?

Nothing related to the mechanicals or the internals of the engine?
No, not really.

Does lap time matter?
?Obviously it?d be nice to be a little bit further up. We?ve obviously got great simulation tools these days and we know where we are in terms of our performance, we?re not running at maximum performance at the moment so if we look at that and add on where we think we should be, not too worried really.

?Yes it would be nice to be further up the time sheets but nothing further to worry about. That?s as fast as we?re going at the moment, that?s where we are.?

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