Honda Motorsport Chief Yusuke Hasegawa says the Japanese engine manufacturer can leapfrog rivals Renault before the end of the current season.
The engine supplier to the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team has been struggling since their return to the sport in 2015, being the fourth best engine supplier behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault.
Honda changed their engine concept over the winter to a similar design to Mercedes, but had suffered reliability troubles and putting McLaren off the pace early in the season, putting a strain and raising questions over their relationship with the Woking based team.
However, progress is being made at Honda introducing the “spec-3” engine at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where Fernando Alonso scored the team’s first points of the season followed by a double-points finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix, and Hasegawa believes with the progress Honda are making, they can surpass the performance of Renault by the end of the current season.
“I think we can keep the same ratio of the increasing of the power but it is difficult to catch up Mercedes or Ferrari.” says Hasegawa to Motorsport.com.
“I really want to move ahead of Renault in terms of performance before the end of the season.”
Hasegawa stated that the Hungarian Grand Prix was the first weekend of 2017 where Honda weren’t affected by reliability issues. Alonso and team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne finished sixth and tenth in the race, placing McLaren ahead of Sauber F1 Team in the Constructors’ standings.
“The drivability was OK but still the drivers highlighted a lack of power,” said Hasegawa. “They are very confident with the car, which is good, but it is still difficult to challenge the top three teams.”
Honda are pushing development on their 2017 engine in their UK base of Milton Keynes and their Sakura base in Japan, with an aim to introduce a “spec-4” engine within the second half of the season.