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Honda says new F1 engine will be at Mercedes' 2016 level

Honda believes its revamped Formula 1 engine will have reached the level Mercedes was at in 2016 by the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Honda says new F1 engine will be at Mercedes' 2016 level
Yusuke Hasegawa, Senior Managing Officer, Honda, Eric Boullier, Racing Director, McLaren, and presenter Simon Lazenby on stage for the launch of the McLaren MCL32
McLaren MCL32 nose detail
The McLaren MCL32 is launched
The McLaren MCL32 is launched
Yusuke Hasegawa, Senior Managing Officer, Honda, and Eric Boullier, Racing Director, McLaren, on stage at the launch of the McLaren MCL32
The McLaren MCL32 is launched
The McLaren MCL32 is launched
Yusuke Hasegawa, Senior Managing Officer, Honda, and Eric Boullier, Racing Director, McLaren, on stage at the launch of the McLaren MCL32
Race drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso on stage at the launch of the McLaren MCL32
Yusuke Hasegawa, Senior Managing Officer, Honda, Zak Brown, Executive Director of McLaren Technology Group, and Eric Boullier, Racing Director, McLaren, toast the McLaren MCL32

Although the Japanese manufacturer admits its current-spec is not yet a match for where Mercedes was last year, its engine chief Yusuke Hasegawa has faith that developments being planned will ensure a good step in time for Melbourne.

When asked if Honda had reached its target of matching Mercedes' 2016 performance, Hasegawa said: "Not at the moment, I think...I don't know how much gain Mercedes has made [with its 2017 engine].

"Of course we are aiming to achieve the top level of the power unit, which is Mercedes at this moment. But we don't know how much power they are making now.

"I'm feeling we are not far behind them [where they were at end of 2016], but I think we will catch up with them by the beginning of the season."

Following suggestions that Mercedes has made an 'unprecedented' step with its 2017 power unit, after a major overhaul of its design, Hasegawa was well aware that Honda could find itself still with plenty of work to do.

"I heard Mercedes also did a very great job, which is very unfortunate," he said. "I really hope we can close up the gap on them but I don't know the exact numbers until we run – but we have made some progress and I hope we can close up some gap."

New concept

Honda's work over the winter has included an overhaul of its concept, as it moves towards the split turbine-compressor concept that Mercedes has put to good use since 2014.

Although Hasegawa would not confirm the specifics, he did state that the idea was 'similar' to what other teams were running.

McLaren chief engineering officer Matt Morris said that the change of architecture for Honda opened up the door for bigger power gains over the season.

"We all feel that we have got an engine architecture that is right and is capable of challenging the best," he said. "In terms of where we are in absolute performance, again it is difficult to know – are we going to rock up with an engine that beats Mercedes at the start of the year? Probably not.

"But if we can have closed the gap like we have been doing for the past two years then that is a good step forward.

"I think the good thing looking forward to the rest of the year, with the regulation change and the token system being dropped, is it allows us to develop the engine a lot during the year so I am sure what we start with in Barcelona next week is not going to be where we finish at the end of the year.

"That will be an exciting development period for us with the base architecture of the engine, which I feel now is where it needs to be – like we do with the chassis, we have a good architecture there and we can then build on the performance hopefully throughout the season."

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About this article

Series Formula 1
Event McLaren MCL32 launch
Teams McLaren
Author Jonathan Noble
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