Honda find solution to performance woes
Honda believe they have found a technical solution that will enable them to make a significant leap forward in 2016 after a disastrous return to Formula 1. Works team Mclaren have lagged about 2.5s off the pace for much of the season, the vast majority of the shortfall accounted for by the lack of performance from Honda’s turbo hybrid V6.
The engine’s main weak point is its hybrid system, which runs out of electrical boost before the end of long straights. Honda have traced the problem to an inefficiency in the compressor, part of the turbocharger system, which is hampering the ability of the related motor generator unit (MGU-H) to salvage energy.
The 2015 Honda engine has a relatively small compressor. This restricts its ability to compress the air needed for the turbo, but Honda had hoped to circumvent that by making it spin faster than a standard compressor. Since they failed to make that idea work, their solution is to design a bigger and more efficient compressor for 2016.
Honda F1 boss Yasuhisa Arai said: “Efficiency of the compressor is the first objective. In other words, at the moment it is inefficient, therefore it has to run fast to make up the efficiency. My way of thinking is that if we can get the efficiency up, we can keep the revs lower. But to do that we need to increase the size to maintain the intake.”
Arai says he expects the compressor to increase to around the size of the one used by Mercedes in 2015. Despite this, Honda will retain their compact packaging approach in which both the turbo and the compressor are sited within the vee of the cylinder block.
Other than this compactness, the Honda layout is similar to that of the Mercedes, with the compressor in front of the turbine and separated by an elongated shaft, on which the MGU-H sits to recover energy created by exhaust gas. Mercedes’ compressor is in front of the engine.
Fernando Alonso has heaped pressure on Honda, saying he believes it is “realistic” for them to close the gap to Mercedes and win races in 2016. Arai responded: “It’s Fernando’s wish, his take on the situation. We think he is trying to encourage the whole team and the project itself. We think his perception of the gap to the top teams is correct. So the team – Mclaren and Honda – must close the gap. That is the target. A car 2.5 seconds faster than us already exists. So in that sense it isn’t a miracle. You can do it with the technology.”
After a humbling return in 2015 – and outright rancour with their Mclaren partners – Honda claim to have found a way forwards
Yasuhisa Arai: “The team – Mclaren and Honda – must close the gap. That is the target”