With one race remaining until the end of their troubled three-year partnership with McLaren, Honda says that the performance of their power unit is “almost at a decent level” compared to their rivals.
It’s hardly a ringing endorsement of the Japanese manufacturer’s progress since their return to the sport in 2015. But Honda’s Formula 1 project lead Yusuke Hasegawa is holding out hope for a breakthrough next season.
“Since Monza, our package and engine performance is almost at a decent level,” he told Motorsport.com. “We could maximise the current engine performance in Brazil, which is encouraging.
Hasegawa pointed to the team’s showing in Brazil, and in particular to Fernando Alonso battling his way to eighth place.
“It was a good race for us” he said, “Fernando had some exciting on-track battles against his rivals.
“As a total package point of view, that was our position – where Fernando finished,” he said. “We are quicker than Williams and we are almost the same level as Force India.”
“[Performance] depends on the circuit characteristics,” he added.
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Both those teams have Mercedes power units, and Hasegawa lamented their overall deficit in terms of power.
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“It was disappointing that Alonso was unable to overtake Massa and move further up the field,” he admitted. “From a power point of view, we’re a little bit behind the other engines.
“We are closing the gap, but we’re not there yet.”
The power unit has also shown greater reliability of late. However, Stoffel Vandoorne retired from the Brazilian Grand Prix after a three-way collision on the opening lap.
“Overall it was an okay weekend for us,” summarised Hasegawa. “Our package showed decent speed during each session.
“We have only one more race to go for this season as McLaren-Honda, so we’ll try our maximum to extract all the potential from our package.”
After Abu Dhabi, McLaren will switch to Renault while Honda will be providing power units to the Toro Rosso team in 2018.
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