Herbert fears for McLaren

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Published: Wednesday 4th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Jonny Herbert believes McLaren could find themselves at the back end of the grid when the new Formula One season gets under way.

The Woking-based marque have struggled to put in the pre-season testing miles due to a number of issues with their new car – with Honda returning to the sport and providing their first attempt at a current F1 power unit.

With other teams pounding around Jerez and Barcelona collecting valuable data and information ahead of the season opener in Melbourne on March 15, McLaren have often found their car back in the garage with one fault or another.

Add to that the fact two-time world champion Fernando Alonso will not be racing in Australia after crashing out at high-speed in Barcelona and it has not been the best reunion for McLaren and Honda – with Herbert tipping them to really struggle in the opening rounds.

“There is definitely a chance of that,” Herbert told Press Association Sport when asked if the eight-time constructors’ champions could find themselves behind a host of other teams this year.

“So many cars have improved. The middle of the pack seems very close. Lotus seem better, Sauber look better. Ferrari look faster than they were last year as well – Red Bull and Toro Rosso, also.

“The middle pack is tight but we haven’t seen the McLaren setting their best times so we don’t know where they will be.

“The run of over 100 laps (from Button in Barcelona) put them in the middle of that pack – is that a true showing of their pace? We really don’t know.

“We don’t know the whole grid order because I don’t think everyone has shown their full hand and, unfortunately for McLaren and everyone else, I don’t think Mercedes have either.”

With the news that Alonso, re-signed to the team after the Spaniard left Ferrari, will be sitting out of the curtain-raiser after his mysterious crash has only added to McLaren’s issues – with Herbert questioning why the rekindled relationship with Honda has got off to such an underwhelming start.

“McLaren have been a disappointment so far,” the former Benetton and Stewart driver said.

“You were thinking “Honda have come back and are back with McLaren again. They had all the success in the late 80s and they had last year to look and see what was going on – they saw other manufacturers having to overcome issues whilst they were working on their engine.

“All of these issues they have had have made it really difficult for them to get any serious running whatsoever. They have had a mass of problems that haven’t helped them.

“It is sad news that Fernando will not be in Australia – everything has gone against them so far.

“The preparation is something that maybe wasn’t to the high standards than Ron Dennis is always after.

“This is something that should have been ready, the new Honda relationship and moving it forward with Jenson and Fernando.

“If it all comes together they might get a good result but it is going to be hard in the opening couple of races – the hardest of their careers.”

Published: Wednesday 4th March 2015 by The News Editor

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