Honda Head of F1 Project Yusuke Hasegawa believes the Japanese manufacturer are now not too far away from Renault in terms of engine performance and reliability.
Having endured a power deficit to rival engine suppliers Mercedes, Scuderia Ferrari and Renault, since their return to the sport with McLaren F1 in 2015, Hasegawa feels the introduction of their spec 3.5 engine at the Belgian Grand Prix back in August, has allowed them to make significant progress, and close up to Renault.
Speaking to Autosport.com recently, Hasegawa commented on how far he felt Honda have come on since their difficult start to the 2017 Formula 1 season, and that he was encouraged by what he was seeing.
“From the beginning of the season, we have been improving the power unit – not only in terms of performance but also reliability.
“Since we introduced spec 3.5 engine, I think that level of performance is very close to the Renault.
“I cannot say it’s better than Renault but the important thing is the reliability is much better.”
The Japanese engineer even speculated that they might well be the closest yet to matching their rivals.
“Yes I think so. We’re not close enough, but the gap is very small compared to last year and the first year.”
Instead of going for a complete overhaul of their engine design in 2018, which has often been their strategy in the past few seasons, Honda are set to stick with the current specification model next year, a design Hasegawa believes is the way forward.
“There is no doubt in this current concept; we’re choosing a very similar concept to Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes.
“There is no reason we can’t achieve the same level of performance with the current concept.”
Despite Hasegawa’s positive vibes, it was all just a little bit too late for McLaren, who have opted to switch to Renault engines in 2018, whilst Honda will power Scuderia Toro Rosso.
It will certainly be extremely interesting to see who comes out on top in that battle next year!