Honda is still chasing Mercedes tail, and if the German power unit has indeed made further steps, it will likely continue chasing this season.
Honda’s progress last season was obvious following a dismal 2015, but the Japanese engine powering McLaren still suffered from a substantial deficit compared with its German counterpart.
Honda has deployed huge efforts and resources and the past months to bridge the gap, actually producing a whole new engine.
But Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda’s Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer, admitted that likely remains a few lengths behind Mercedes.
“I don’t know how much gain Mercedes has made,” said the Japanese engineer.
“Of course, we are aiming to achieve the top level of the power unit – which is clearly Mercedes at this moment – but we don’t know how much power they are making now.”
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Hasegawa was confident further progress would, at the very least, elevate Honda to Mercedes’ 2016 performance level. But with the latter continuing to ascend, a gap will persist.
“I feel we are not far behind, but I think we will catch up with them by the beginning of the season. But I heard they did a very great job, which is very unfortunate.
“I really hope we can close up the gap on them but I don’t know the exact numbers until we run, but we have made some progress and I hope we can close up some gap.”
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