Hasegawa hoping Honda is on Mercedes 2016 level by season opener

Yusuke Hasegawa is expecting progress from Honda between now and the new season - Credit: McLaren Media Centre

Yusuke Hasegawa hopes that Honda can be at the level that Mercedes were at the beginning of 2016 when the new season gets underway next month in Australia.

Hasegawa, the chief engineer of Honda, hopes the McLaren Formula 1 Team will benefit from a much improved engine this season, but is expecting Mercedes to also make a jump in performance, which would leave them with a deficit once more.

Plans are in place to introduce updates to the power unit before the race at Albert Park, with drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne set to benefit ahead of the new season, although Hasegawa admits the plan is to have the best power unit on the grid, something they know they still have work to do.

“Of course we are aiming to achieve the top level of the power unit, which is Mercedes at this moment,” said Hasegawa on Motorsport.com. “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.

“I heard Mercedes also did a very great job, which is very unfortunate. 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.”