After almost three years since returning to Formula 1 as a engine supplier, Honda is ‘very close’ to Renault’s power unit and closer to Mercedes than they have ever been, claimed Honda’s F1 project chief Yusuke Hasegawa.
Honda reduced their power unit deficit in 2016 after disasterous 2015, but fell behind after changing the whole concept and suffered from reliebility problems that prevented them to fully exploit its potential.
During this season Honda has introduced improvements and now they believe they are very close to Renault, engines which will be used by McLaren while Toro Rosso will take Honda.
“Starting from the beginning of the season, we are improving the power unit, not just performance but reliability,” Hasegawa told Autosport.
“Since we have introduced specification 3.5, I think the performance level is very similar to Renault. I can not say better than Renault, but it’s important that reliability is much better.”
When asked if Honda was the closest he had ever been to his rivals, Hasegawa said it is the case.
“Yes, I think we are. We are not close enough, but the gap is very small compared to last year and the first year.”
Unlike the past two years, Honda will not plan to change the power unit concept next year and believe they can catch other manufacturers.
“We have no doubts in the current concept, we have chosen a very similar concept to Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes. There is no reason not to achieve the same level of performance with the current concept.”
Fernando Alonso said in Japan that Honda has constantly changed the concept of their engine and therefore came completely unprepared for testing and first races.