Honda has seen a performance gain of up to 0.4s per lap since the summer break as a result of its power unit development, according to the head of its F1 project.
A third season of struggle eventually culminated in McLaren and Honda opting to part ways, with McLaren switching to Renault power next season and the Japanese manufacturer supplying Toro Rosso. Heading toward the end of this year, Yusuke Hasegawa says the rate of improvement with the power unit specifications introduced since the end of August is an encouraging sign for Honda.
“Of course getting some points and some good results would be the way we want to finish the year,” Hasegawa told RACER. “That’s it, it’s very simple!”
Asked if Honda had seen a clear gain with its latest specification of power unit – titled spec 3.8 – to make that a realistic target, Hasegawa replied: “Yes, especially in the United States and Mexico. I think it’s worth 0.1s or 0.2s.
“As I’ve always mentioned we don’t stop development because next year’s engine is based on this year’s engine, so we just keep going. But we don’t say what next year’s situation is at this moment.
“I can’t be satisfied until we get to the top level among the engines but it is fair to say we are doing a very good job from 3.5 to 3.8. The improvement is maybe 0.3s or 0.4s from spec 3.5, but we are still far behind the Mercedes engine so I’m not satisfied with that.”
However when asked if he felt Honda has closed the gap to Mercedes during the season, Hasegawa replied: “Yes I think so.
“Of course some convergence should happen over the next few years. There last couple of races have shown the qualifying lap time deficit is not as big as it was at the beginning of the season so it’s definitely going in the right direction.”
With both sides of the McLaren-Honda partnership preparing for new challenges in 2018, Hasegawa says work for next year is not detracting from the determination to finish this season on a high.
“Yes of course, both sides are looking to 2018. Honda already started some work programs with Toro Rosso of course, otherwise we can’t prepare the car for winter testing. But that is a completely different side [of the company], so I don’t think there’s an issue with McLaren.
“We are very much connected and we are focusing because we have agreed to deliver the best possible performance at the circuit for the rest of the season. So I don’t think there’s an issue.”