Honda is investigating whether a strange noise that Jenson Button heard from his engine on Saturday was linked to his retirement in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Japanese car manufacturer has begun an investigation in to what went wrong on Button's power unit that put him out of the Sakhir race when he appeared to be set for a decent haul of points.
Honda's F1 engine chief Yusuke Hasegawa said that only work back at the factory would be able to pinpoint exactly what part failed.
“It was obviously a power unit issue,” he said when asked by Motorsport.com. “Jenson mentioned that he lost power and there was some big noise, so he stopped the car by himself. It could be mechanical trouble but we don't know yet.”
Hasegawa revealed that Button mentioned he had heard something from the engine after qualifying, but that investigations by his engineers that night had not encountered anything untoward.
“Jenson mentioned he heard some small noise from the power unit from Saturday, but we didn't see any issue on the data,” he said. “We didn't see anything. We don't know if that is related to the trouble.”
Although Honda has escaped any major reliability problems so far this year, Hasegawa has admitted that he has never felt it could forget about durability issues.
“Actually I still have a lot of concern about some areas, but we didn't have any issue from the Barcelona second week,” he said. “It was not a surprise, but it was very unfortunate and we are ashamed.”
Despite the disappointment over Button, Honda had shown evidence of clear progress in Bahrain as it came close to getting through to Q3 and Stoffel Vandoorne got in to the points.
Looking at the weekend as a whole, Hawegawa said: “I am not completely satisfied with the position. But definitely we can show our improvement from last year and once we can manage everything collectively, I think we have a chance to get points. We proved that and that is very good.”