“We have the same power as Mercedes”
Japanese firm believes its hybrid system can pave the way forward
Honda F1 insists it is already matching Mercedes in terms of hybrid power, and that its rate of development marks it out as the biggest threat to the pecking order in the future.
Despite not finishing in the points for the last two races, Mclaren-honda is just three points away from matching its sum total from the entire 2015 campaign, and has yet to spend any of its available development tokens on an engine combustion upgrade.
Mclaren and Honda focused heavily on the development of its hybrid energy recovery systems over the winter, having struggled with both harvesting and deployment last term.
Honda’s F1 head Yusuke Hasegawa believes the team is already matching pacesetter Mercedes in that area, and that the squad can close the gap further with late-season development. “From an energy recovery system point of view, we have already achieved our target, which is already on Mercedes’ level,” said Hasegawa. “Our recovery system’s performance is not very different to the top teams, I am very confident about that.
“The energy recovery has already doubled from last year and is achieving at the top level. I can’t tell if it is better than the others, but it’s reasonable to say it’s a very even area.
“It is incredible that we have achieved that in two to three years, where others have taken seven or eight.”
Honda has 12 development tokens remaining this season, and Hasegawa said most were earmarked for an internal combustion upgrade.
“There is always room to improve, but definitely we need to focus on the internal combustion engine performance,” he added. “We don’t have enough performance in an update [yet] so we can’t introduce it. In some of the individual experimental tests we see some of the benefits, but we can’t prove it as a complete engine. We don’t have enough time – or tokens – to change everything, so we will instead bring additional parts.”
Spanish driver Fernando Alonso reiterated his belief that Mclaren was on the right track to challenge Mercedes in the near future.
The two-time world champion added: “There are weekends when we’re competitive and ones we struggle with the long straights [such as Canada and Baku], they are painful. But in general we are doing OK.
“After Mercedes somebody has to lead the sport, and if you look at all the other teams and manufacturers, I don’t think anyone is in a better position than Mclaren-honda for the future. There is still a long way to go but nobody is doing better than us.”
Hasegawa: big gains made