Honda Head of F1 Project Yusuke Hasegawa says that despite suffering from a number of problems with their engine during winter testing, they were able to make suitable changes after further investigation, and the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team will be ready for the first race in Melbourne this weekend.
“It has been a challenging winter for everyone at the team. Obviously, the problems we had in Barcelona, limited our track time and put added pressure on our pre-season preparations, however, we were still able to generate a huge amount of useful data.
“In terms of performance, there has been room for improvement with mapping in order to have better driveability, and with further analysis we were able to make additional changes to be ready for Melbourne.”
Despite that optimism, reliability is still an uncertainty, and further amendments may still be needed to bring the Woking based squad up to the levels of performance they believe they should be able to achieve in 2017.
Whether that is necessary will only be known once the first race weekend of the season gets underway, but Hasegawa is confident they are now on the right path with development, and further improvements will be apparent as the year goes on.
“We know we are heading in the right direction and we’ll continue our efforts in order to increase our competitiveness throughout the season.”
Hasegawa is still anticipating a tough time out in Australia however, as the Albert Park track has always been demanding on all elements of the car, as well as the driver.
The Japanese engineer believes that getting on top of reliability will be key for the Woking based squad this weekend, and if the Honda engine can hold up, whilst delivering the maximum power available, that would be a big step forward for McLaren Honda from where they had slumped to in Barcelona, and both parties would take that…without a shadow of a doubt!
“As a season-opener, the Australian GP is a strenuous grand prix for the drivers, car and the power unit. Our priority for the weekend will be to extract the most out of our power unit, while maintaining reliability.
“It won’t be an easy weekend, but despite the challenges we love coming to Melbourne. The fans are amazing, and we always have fantastic support from our Honda Australia peers. We hope we can show our appreciation through our efforts on the track.”