Honda Formula 1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa believes that it can overtake engine competitor Renault before the end of the 2017 season.
Honda, which currently supplies constructors’ championship tail-ender McLaren with power units, has suffered from a lack of power and unreliability since its re-entry to Formula 1 in 2015.
The lack of competitiveness, as made apparent by Fernando Alonso’s suggestions that the power deficit cost the team 2.5 seconds a lap in the Canadian Grand Prix earlier this year, has created a strenuous McLaren-Honda partnership.
The team scored its first double-points finish of the season in Hungary last time out, as it encountered its first problem-free weekend of the year.
“I think we can keep the same ratio of the increasing of the power but it is difficult to catch up Mercedes or Ferrari,” Hasegawa told Autosport.
“I really want to move ahead of Renault in terms of performance before the end of the season.”
When asked if he believed that would be an achievable target, Hasegawa replied, “Yes, I can see that on the data.
“I will not tell you the number, but we are closing the gap.”
Hasegawa added he felt this was the closest Honda has been to its rivals since they rejoined the championship.
Speaking about its performance in Hungary, which enabled McLaren to surpass Sauber into ninth in the contructors’ championship, Hasegawa said: “The drivability was OK but still the drivers highlighted a lack of power.
“It is still difficult to challenge the top three teams.”
Honda intends to introduce a ‘Spec 4’ engine as it aims to propel itself further up the pecking order in 2017, with rumours circulating that Toro Rosso may sign with the Japanese manufacturer for next year.
Formula One addict. F1 Hub race reporter; former CentralSector admin.