“We have the same power as Mercedes”

Ja­panese firm be­lieves its hy­brid sys­tem can pave the way for­ward

Motor Sport News - - Headline News - By Rob Lad­brook Pho­tos: LAT

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

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