Honda is convinced that developments it is preparing for the second half of the year will deliver the step forward needed to help turn around McLaren's campaign.
Despite a troubled start to the year, that has been blighted by reliability dramas and a lack of power, Honda is confident that a leap of power is just around the corner.
Motorsport boss Yasuhisa Arai says that a plan to use its seven remaining development tokens after the summer will produce good results.
“We have seven tokens still remaining, so we will apply those in the second half of the season after the summer shutdown,” Arai told Motorsport.com
“We will replace many parts to improve the horsepower, so we have good harvest and good systems. And I think we can catch up this season.
“That is the target and already we have shared that with our team. The two drivers know our plan and they trust us.”
Combustion chamber key
Arai suggests that Honda's main improvement must come from the internal combustion engine – with the extra power it produces then needing to be harvested better.
“Combustion is very important to get the horsepower,” he said. “So changing the combustion chamber design, the valve timing and everything for better combustion.
“It is mainly in the ICE, but some areas like the MGU-K and MGU-H, including the turbo charger, are other areas we need to work on to get more horsepower.”
Honda's rate of progress this season has been limited by F1's engine homologation rules that have left it with just nine development tokens for the year. It used two prior to the Canadian Grand Prix.
The rules open up this winter, with Honda allowed 25 tokens for next season
“We already have a good plan,” he said. “With the tokens for next year, we already have many ideas.”
However, Arai would welcome a deal being reached for in-season development to be allowed again next year, rather than F1 sticking to the current February 28 homologation plan.
“I prefer that the date is moved – so the remaining tokens can be used next year,” he said. “That is very good for everybody.
“Maybe in the second half of the season we will discuss that point about the remaining tokens with Mercedes and Ferrari.”
Aggressive package right call
Honda elected for a unique layout of its power unit components, with some aggressive packaging aimed at helping both aerodynamics and the car's centre of gravity.
Although the concept has contributed to early season woes due to its complexity, Arai is convinced that the longer term benefits are worth it.
“A different way is maybe the only way to the podium,” he said. “It is quite a different layout – for instance the MGU-H and turbo is a very compact package, and also with the power unit itself, everything is very tightly packaged for good influence for the aero package.
“Also the battery and controller is very, very small with a low centre of gravity for the car – so we contributed to that area too.”
When asked if he felt the aggressive approach was still right, Arai said: “Our target is to exceed the top team. So if we do it the same way, we will just catch up. That is it.
“We needed some ideas to apply to the combustion layout, and hybrid systems. So we tried very hard and sometimes it is very difficult layout, but we believe that direction is the only way that we can catch up and exceed the top teams.”