Honda hope for major jump in F1 engine performance and reliability after Bahrain test
Posted By: Editor   |  21 Apr 2017   |  4:08 pm GMT  |  90 comments

Neither McLaren finished the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Bahrain last weekend but the final day of testing at Sakhir showed a marked improvement in performance. Stoffel Vandoorne managed to complete 81 laps of testing with the fourth fastest time – 1m32.120s was the Belgian’s fastest lap of the whole week.

Major engine upgrades from Honda are most likely to appear at Montreal in June, with new cylinder heads and more work on the combustion process to counter the power unit’s lack of efficiency, according to Michael Schmidt at German outlet Auto Motor und Sport.

Honda’s principal engineer, Satoshi Nakamura, expanded on the manufacturer’s progress, stating, “We also made some progress today with the set-up of our PU in order to acquire better driveability and reduce the vibration.

“Based on this analysis, we implemented provisional countermeasures against the issue on our PU [power unit] and we think we were able to confirm the direction of our solution with today’s running,” continued Nakamura to the official F1 website.

Wednesday’s testing result was something of a coup, given that Vandoorne’s MCL32 did not even start the Grand Prix due to a water pressure issue in the Honda power unit.

Problems this season have included oil tank, electrical and vibration issues in Honda’s revised V6 hybrid turbo engine. The deficit to Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault is, and has been evident throughout these three races.

Boullier, McLaren’s racing director, said that the team “managed a proper test” with engineers frantically trying to remedy the Honda power unit’s issues. The team’s only finish of the season came at the opening race in Australia, as Vandoorne finished 13th.

“I’m really happy with the work we’ve completed today…We’ve been able to run with a more aggressive set-up today, gathered a lot of information and tested a lot of solutions, so in terms of both data and results it’s been a very positive day of testing,” he said.

Honda has also spoken with Sauber with a possible engine supply deal for the Swiss outfit materialising in 2018. Talks with the engine supplier were verified to have taken place by Autosport, with Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn confirming.

Sauber currently uses Ferrari’s 2016 engine, a specification which was introduced at the 2016 Italian Grand Prix in September. Hit by financial difficulties last season until it was acquired by Longbow Finance SA in July, Sauber might still find it more commercially viable to source an engine from Honda next season.

With the cost of engine development due to reduce a further €3 million next year, both struggling teams could benefit significantly if the deal goes through and Honda fixes its current problems. McLaren’s former CEO, Ron Dennis, was thought to have vetoed any possible supply arrangement but his ousting in 2016 increases its probability.

Will Honda improve and change McLaren’s fortunes? What do you think? Leave your comments in the section below.

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Undoubtably Honda will make progress with their F1 engine, however they continue to need to be criticised, for their continued failures up to this point in time … why has their development been so painfully slow, and why has it taken so long for them to employ Ilmore and other european advisors, to find an answer to Honda,s problems …. Surely many of Hondas F1 engine designers can not be far off having a walk on the shady side of Mt Fuji, but for one thing, and that is that would only put engine development even further behind … To advance quickly they must continue to employ top european race engine designers and developers


Come on Honda, make this work please!!! It would be so good!


“we think we were able to confirm the direction of our solution with today’s running”


I wonder what was stopping Honda from THINKING about trying to CONFIRM what DIRECTION to take on a SOLUTION, after all that previous running in testing plus three gps worth of sessions.

The million dollar question though is do they have anyone who can provide an improved solution in that direction before the next race.

I mean, I’m no rocket scientist, but I THINK I could CONFIRM a SOLUTION that the rocket should point away from the Earth towards the Moon then fired. I’d struggle to make the solution work without exploding though.

Honda, why not start by making the engine with transparent covers and film the thing with high speed cameras whilst every part was monitored with sensors as it pounds round Suzuka in the back of an actual McLaren F1 car…


Finally some good news for McHonda! Alonso will be happier, maybe 😉
Am still hoping for a Honda resurgence – maybe this is the beginning!
Was checking out the flying Kiwi result in Indy cars this morning and noticed Alonso is classified 24th in the Indy Car championship already – there is a good chance he could finish higher in that championship than in F1 – which I laughed about…


it’s easy to knock honda. the renault engine is still not totally competitive after 4 years.


I really want Honda to improve as soon as possible. We have already seen the permanent decline of one great team in Williams, to see McLaren slip into that category too is bad for F1.

I wonder if the Alonso deal for Indy is in preparation for the 2018 Mclaren not living up to potential. For example, if it is clear the 2018 car will be struggling for podiums, I could see Alonso switching to a McLaren branded Andretti and spending a season in the states.

I wonder what the budget differences are in the US anyway? Surely for a team like Williams or McLaren, if F1 becomes too difficult to compete financially, they would be better switching to Indycar where they would be a much bigger fish.


I think they will exceed form in Monaco, healthy dose of luck permitting, and finish a race. I can even see points, probably in the 7th to 10th range. Actually, I expect lots of surprises at Monaco, so I’ll go ahead and say 8th for JB and 10th for Stoffel.

I just read that ZB wants McLaren at Indy every year. I’m glad to hear that. For all the F1 success McLaren has had, the CanAm and USAC teams captured my imagination more. But I’m old enough to remember them, and when Bruce and Denny and Peter Revson and Johnny Rutherford were driving…


Yes they will without doupt


This sounds exactly like last year’s press release and the one before that. It must be getting close to game over.

Tornillo Amarillo

Interesting what Lando Norris (17) says about McLaren and their young programme, it is like he could get a seat soon if Sauber takes the Honda PU…

James, If that is the case, is it like Sauber could get a combo PU-Norris for 2018 or 2019?


“Hopes for” kind of says it all, doesn’t it? Every other engine manufacturer says when an engine update is coming and the predictes improvement, with Honda one gets the feeling that it is all being thrown against the wall to see what sticks. Reliability should not be such an issue, there should be a warehouse full of engines running 24-7 on the dyno under simulated race conditions. By the time Honda catches up. Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault will all have made their own gains…


I predict a podium for Button in Monaco


Between P7 and P9 I reckon.


ross brawn proposed a fees weeks ago that teams should share data to keep the competition closer. does tha mean they’ll return mclaren’s $100m?


So much could be said about the just finished late Ron era but we have heard little.
Ron by his track record was a sophisticated person who could plan with great complexity.
He would have been aware that starting from zero Honda had no chance of being a front
runner for many years.
He would have known Honda had nobody with the required skills to make a world beater in the
short term.That being 3-5 years.
He also needed a huge sponsor onboard. The F1 public are always wailing about
a title sponsor as if having a big logo and livery on the side brings magically millions.
But you only have to look at williams and Force india to see its more modest nowadays.
The money honda were bringing for engine and driver payroll was probably the equivelent
of what used to be a major sponsor like vodafone.
To top it all they wanted world champions on board for some reason.
This is where it gets interesting as you would never imagined Ron having Alonso back
but a George Smiley level of thinking and planning comes in to play from Mr Dennis.
Alonso comes back paid for by someone else for 3 development years to tick down the clock on his career. Driver and manager suckered in.
It all goes wonkey at the end as Ron is pushed out and maybe Alonso wins in the end as
they will pretty much structure the team for him now if he stays.
Maybe the Machiavellian operators dont always win long term.

Ricciardo Aficionado

I hope you’re right.


I have absolutely no idea whether Honda will turnaround McLaren’s fortunes.
Neither, I suspect, does Honda itself.

But at least they’re trying . . .


The chassis is clearly pretty tidy although impossible to judge completely until put into the top operating window needed.
The P U is not gonna get into the top tier before 2020 and therefore you’ve gotta question either parties continued involvement in F1 until then. Granted a certain % of the tech will undoubtedly be carried over into the next regs.
With regards to Alonso,honestly why waste 30 million a year on the guy.
It’s the engineers at Mclaren I feel for,they’ve created a great looking car that could for all we know be the fastest out there.
Lastly the involvement of another team provides more data. Modern F1 is absolutely a data driven formula and therefore more teams=more P U=more data. However I just don’t think Honda know what the problem is or how to fix it.
Thankfully the Mclaren road cars are awesome.


Honda pay Alonso’s salary so no sweat for McLaren there.

The problem McLaren have is that they simply can’t afford to lose Honda’s funding. The only way they can cut ties with Honda is if they have a similar arrangement with a different manufacturer outside of F1 ready to go.


Oh yes of course, I forgot they only have 2 multi billionaire share holders. Plus Ron whose worth half a billion. Makes you wonder how they’re surviving at all. Not to mention a very successful road car division and the applied technologies division.
I tell you what,I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you worded your comment incorrectly and assume it should have read that they can’t afford to stay with Honda.


No benefit of the doubt required.

‘I forgot they only have 2 multi billionaire share holders. Plus Ron whose worth half a billion’

And you really think their shareholders want to lose the continuity of $60m a year plus free engines, contribution to drivers salaries, stability, manufacturer support?? And pump money in themselves??

‘Not to mention a very successful road car division and the applied technologies division.’

Well yes they do, but not on the same planet as say Mercedes and Ferrari.


Seems that you have a magic ball and a clear hate to Alonso, but hopefully you are wrong and Mac come back strong this season


How you arrive at the conclusion that I “hate” Alonso because I suggest his 30 million would be better spent elsewhere is totally beyond me. I’ve never even met the man.


honda only 4 years into hybrid development merc took 5 years when no other team was told about hybrids thanks to currupt eccleston .merc started in 2008 before joining f1 .f1 teams in f1 told in 2013


Hopefully this is genuine pace so we can stop hearing from the Alfonso apologists.They are as rancid as the Ham officiandoes


The only solution is to take a car in Japan and test it there secretly.


When they start finishing races, I think they will end up being maybe 7th and 8th. It will take maybe couple of but with merc engines they would be fighting for 6-5 places MAX. From what I’m understood, they have quite an awesome deal with honda with plenty of money. I mean PLENTY of it. No reason to go with mercs. They would lose millions and millions and that would be very bad for their future. Ending up being 5th and 6th with merc’s with smaller budget and with no free engines would make a bad deal.


Japanese manufacturing is something to behold. Their approach to development is often an exercise in frustration when compared to ” Western” ways.

In the end when they finally unveil the product it will be spectacular.It must be equally as frustrating to the Japanese to have to answer to the likes of Mr. Brown.


It’s called JIT manufacturing…the problem is that someone forgot to wind the clock!!!!


Yet again we are promised major upgrades. I wonder if these are the wonderful things that Ron told us he had seen on the Honda test rig. In 2014 I think it was……….


mclaren said they’ll dominate f1 after mercedes at the start of the end of last season.


Honda engineers discovered that their PU was actually a GP2 engine, and turned it into an F1 engine for the Bahrain test.


Strange they just discovered that. I’m sure Alonso told them last year in Japan🤔


This is McLaren. I’ve become immune to their constant claims of “we will win this year” and “everything will be fixed by the next race”, etc, etc. It’s time they toned down their predictions, started saying “with luck” and “hopefully” for a change, because they’re not fooling anyone with their constant misplace optimism.

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