Jul.16 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Former F1 driver Allan McNish has questioned whether Honda can ever make a success of its new collaboration with McLaren.

In the early 90s, amid the first, utterly-successful McLaren-Honda era spearheaded by Ayrton Senna, the young McNish was the test driver.

But the Scot, now 45, says things have changed.

“This Honda is not the same as that Honda,” he said in a column for the BBC, for whom he now works as a pundit for the broadcaster.

“If you look across motor sport, Honda is struggling everywhere except the British touring car championship,” added McNish. “Honda does not seem to be the same company with the same racing spirit it had in the past.”

However, although McNish thinks the situation today is “dire”, McLaren team boss Eric Boullier is not ruling out a podium by the end of the season.

But McNish says the almost 3 second gap to pole at Silverstone is “a lifetime”.

“It is going to be a long, hard road ahead,” he predicted. “Not only does Honda have to make a huge step forward – probably a whole new engine, looking at where this one is – but at the same time the competition is marching on.

“It is hard to see how they can ever catch up.”

Also notably struggling with its ‘power unit’, however, is Renault, whose success in F1 has been much more recent, at the tail end of the V8 era in collaboration with Red Bull.

Dominating the sport now is Mercedes, whose boss Toto Wolff admits there could be a problem with the new era, particularly if Red Bull is now threatening to quit formula one.

“You have to take them seriously,” the Austrian said of the threats.

“We understand that and accept the problem,” Wolff is quoted by motorline.cc. “You cannot just look at your own agenda and say ‘We’re winning so we don’t care about anything else’.”