Honda chief Yusuke Hasegawa admits he is more worried by the Japanese manufacturer’s performance deficit to its rivals than its reliability problems over pre-season testing.
Honda endured a problematic winter, with numerous problems across the eight days limiting McLaren to just 425 laps — the lowest of any team and less than Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Marcus Ericsson managed individually. After his penultimate day in the car Fernando Alonso said McLaren’s only problem was its Honda power unit, which he claimed was 30 km/h down on every straight.
While rival manufacturer Renault had come into winter expecting to struggle with its Energy Recovery System (ERS), Honda was not braced for so many difficulties.
When asked by Racer.com if Honda had been anticipating any specific problems coming into testing, Hasegawa said: Of course not. Of course we knew the performance level but we didn’t know the level of the other teams, so from a comparison point of view we are a little bit scared of the situation and it’s too optimistic for us to expect a very good result in Melbourne.
“But from a trouble point of view, of course I didn’t expect such a wide variety of problems that we suffered … Everything that has happened has not been seen on the dyno, I believe. Especially the day two issue and this week’s day one issue, we didn’t expect such a problem.”
Hasegawa thinks Honda’s performance deficit is more to do with its rivals making a bigger jump than expected, rather than a failure to deliver on its own part.
“Of course we also improved our engine performance level; however, it looks like the PU performance improvement of the others is better and higher than us. We may even be further back, so that is very disappointing. “From the settings or a setting point of view we may have some things we can do in these two weeks. In the next two weeks we will try to find some ways of tuning the engine, and it can have better performance [by Melbourne], definitely.”