McLaren-Honda has a shot at outpacing Ferrari in Formula 1’s Monaco Grand Prix due to a superior chassis, reckons its racing director Eric Boullier.
The twisty Monte Carlo street circuit has been tipped to play to the strengths of McLaren’s MP4-31. Asked where he expects drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button to be next weekend, Boullier said: “On paper we could be between sixth and eighth, I think.”
In response to the suggestion that would be behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, he said: “Ferrari, not sure. Not sure Ferrari is a threat. Red Bull, definitely, Toro Rosso, who have quite a good car, and Mercedes.”
Boullier believes McLaren has the third-best chassis in F1 – a position he is sure the team already held in 2015 but thinks it has now consolidated at Williams and Ferrari’s expense.
“Last year we were third, but close with Williams and Ferrari,” he said. “Now it is Mercedes, Red Bull, ourselves, then Ferrari, Toro Rosso and Williams. They are clearly behind now.”
Both McLaren drivers believes Monaco will be a strong race for the team.
“I love it. The last couple of years I have been properly on it as well,” said Button, who was sixth in 2014 and eighth last year and is aiming for his first run of three straight points finishes since summer ’14.
“Last year was a little bit frustrating with a yellow flag at Turn 1 [Sainte Devote] and I had to lift because we would have got into Q3, which has to be the aim this year.
“I really enjoy Monaco. The way I drive and build up – instead of overshooting and then coming back – I think works for me around Monaco.”
Alonso acknowledged Honda still lacks power, making Monaco a venue where McLaren’s deficit is less apparent.
“I think we are getting better and better, no doubt, with all of the steps we are making in the package,” said Alonso, whose Q3 performance in Spain was the first for the current McLaren-Honda partnership.
“We are still missing a little bit of power from the power unit, but Monaco is a circuit where it is not so important so we have a chance to deliver even more.”