Honda Motorsports Chief Yusuke Hasegawa admits that the Japanese Manufacturer’s engine wasn’t expected to have the performance it had at the Mexican Grand Prix.
Honda chose to make engine changes for the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguiez for McLaren Honda F1 Team‘s Fernanado Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, where it feared that it would struggle. The change meant both drivers would have to start from the back of the grid, due to additional power unit elements.
However, both McLaren’s showed promising pace throughout the weekend, with Alonso setting the fifth fastest time in Qualifying 1 and said he had the best car of the weekend. The Spaniard would grab McLaren’s only point of the weekend with a tenth place finish.
But Hasegawa said to Motorsport.com that the performance from the Honda engine was better that feared.
“The performance was much better than we thought,” he said.
“Before we came here, we thought our engine performance was worse than the other teams and the effect from the high altitude would be bad.”
“But Sakura has worked hard to create a good set-up for this high altitude, which is why the engine power deficit was much smaller than we thought.”
“This gap [to our rivals] is smaller. The relative performance is still a bit behind, but we think we can catch up.”
Hasegawa said that it made gains on its dynos at its Sakura base as a reason on the improved pace at Mexico, where the high altitude puts straining on the engine.
“Previously, we couldn’t create a good dyno system to evaluate the high altitude situation, But in the last week, we have made improvements in Sakura, regarding the operation of the engine. We made improvements here.” said Hasegawa.
“[Correlation] is getting much better from the beginning of the season.”
“It is not 100 percent copying the circuit situation, so still we need to work but we are almost satisfied with the situation. This circumstance, the high altitude in Mexico, is unique, though.”