Honda believes it can pass Renault with 'Spec 4' engine
Honda believes it can overtake Renault in terms of engine performance with its 'Spec 4' power unit, which is set to debut later this season.
The Japanese manufacturer and supplier to the McLaren team has endured a difficult campaign after it changed its engine concept at the beginning of the year, in the hope it would catch rivals Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes.
That failed to happen, with a lack of power and poor reliability plaguing McLaren's drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne.
However their latest engine, 'Spec 3', was introduced in Azerbaijan and has shown steady improvement, particularly in terms of reliability as for the first race weekend neither Alonso or Vandoorne suffered any issues in Hungary, whilst both scored points with the Spaniard finishing sixth, behind only the cars of Ferrari, Mercedes and a sole Red Bull.
It's hoped 'Spec 4', which is expected to debut at the Japanese Grand Prix, will deliver another major boost, taking Honda past Renault, according to motorsport chief Yusuke Hasegawa.
"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 Motorsport.
"I really want to move ahead of Renault in terms of performance before the end of the season."
Asked if that was a realistic goal, given Honda's woes, Hasegawa hinted that data from their 'Spec 4' power unit showed positive gains.
"Yes," he replied. "I can see that on the data. I will not tell you the number, but we are closing the gap [to Renault]."
Meanwhile McLaren are expected to make a decision after the summer break as to whether or not they will continue with Honda, with sources suggesting they will stick it out for at least another season, given Honda's recent improvements.