The 2015 Formula 1 season left Honda’s pride and confidence hurt, after struggling in their return, Yusuke Hasegawa changed their approach for their second season.
Honda returned to the championship as a power unit supplier for McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team, their return was a year after the new engine regulations were introduced. They struggled, as the season was plagued by reliability issues, along with struggling for outright power.
Ahead of the 2016 F1 season, Hasegawa took over from Yasuhisa Arai as head of F1 project. He told RACER that he believes they achieved a good level of progress, along with if there was no improvement it would have been a disaster.
“It’s difficult to express, because it was not just coming from McLaren or Ron at the time,” Hasegawa said. “But from Honda, the name of Honda and our pride.
“It is very difficult in a competition to guarantee an exact result, but I was thinking we really needed to prove we can do it and to do that we had to show some progress and we had to achieve a decent step up in performance. From that point of view I think we have achieved a good level of progress. If there had been no improvement it would have been a disaster.”
When asked if the pride was hurt by their 2015 performance, Hasegawa replied, “Of course I wasn’t in the team last year but from the outside, yes, obviously.
“Everybody at Sakura [Honda’s Japan headquarters], the team members, lost their confidence. But it’s fair to say they did a very good job in such a short period. So although we had so many issues, at least they delivered progress with the power unit and I am proud of that.”
When Hasegawa took over in 2016, he changed Honda’s approach to the season, outlining priorities that Honda had to try and achieve, like improving their reliability issues, the internal combustion engine and the turbine.
“I did implement changes, but I didn’t recognize I had made changes because I did what I wanted to do,” said Hasegawa. “So I don’t know what was going on, but we needed to contribute a baseline to start with.
“2015 was challenging because we needed to prepare the engine and we were not confident but we couldn’t go back. All the time we were trying to prepare, we were always solving issues. So in the winter I asked our team members to construct a baseline to start with.
“It wasn’t my decision but over the winter it was clear that the reliability, the ICE [internal combustion engine] and the turbine were the three items that we needed to improve. The reliability was especially difficult to improve because a problem can come from anywhere, and even this year we still had some issues.”