Honda says it must now focus on improving the performance of its internal combustion engine, after admitting that the progress it has made in Formula 1 this season is still not good enough.
The Japanese manufacturer's return to the sport last year was hindered by it lacking in energy deployment, which left Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button with huge power deficits at the end of straights.
To overcome that problem, Honda redesigned the size of its compressor over the winter – and that effort appears to have paid off judging by its encouraging start to the campaign.
But having satisfied itself that the worst of its problems, including major reliability troubles, are behind it, Honda says it is time to now look at overall horsepower to close the gap to its competitors.
“It is very difficult to tell but we concentrated on reliability first and I think we improved the reliability areas, although we had issues [in Bahrain],” said Yusuke Hasegawa.
“Now [we will focus] on the internal combustion performance - power - as we know that the current power isn’t good enough to get a Q3 position. So that’s what I can tell… I think the current performance is reasonable.”
When asked if the current pace is what Honda had expected ahead of the campaign, he said: “I think almost what we expected. The current position is what we thought. It is not very good but it is reasonable I think.”
Honda has 14 engine development tokens remaining to spend during the season, and it is possible that some could be brought in to play for the Spanish Grand Prix.
Hasegawa is clear where the focus will be though, as a ramping up of the internal combustion engine performance will help all areas of the power unit.
“Engine power and engine combustion, we have to improve that,” he said. “Still we have a lack of end of straight speed, so it is everything."
Despite Button being forced to stop his car during the Bahrain race, Hasegawa says that Honda is boosted by the fact it will not have to spend any development effort in overcoming reliability issues.
“We are supposed to use the tokens for the power of the engine and also for the deployment as well. It is open. For reliability we don’t need to use the tokens.
“Of course we have to make changes to get performance. Once we get higher power we might modify other areas to confirm reliability. I’m thinking power is always coming with reliability, it needs to.”