International assistance: What outside help will it take for Honda engines to make the grade?
Posted By: Editor   |  25 Apr 2017   |  6:11 pm GMT  |  95 comments

It has emerged in recent weeks that Mercedes could consult Honda on improving its hybrid-engine’s reliability and power, although Mercedes has consistently declined to comment on this matter.

Since the debacle of the first test in Barcelona, when the new Honda engine was revealed to be both hopelessly uncompetitive and unreliable, the debate has been whether Honda, McLaren’s power unit supplier, could receive help to help achieve a degree of parity between them and the other suppliers: Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault. The fear is that Honda may withdraw from F1 if things continue as they are.

A move towards parity is one of the areas, along with cost control, that were at the heart of talks between teams, manufacturers, the FIA and F1 Management, which resolved to retain the hybrid turbo engines to 2020.

Based on a simulation in which engines would be analysed on their performance around the Barcelona circuit on identical cars, the idea would be for the performance difference between engines not to exceed 0.3 seconds per lap.

There is a lack of options for the Strategy Group in terms of intervention, and it’s most likely that Honda may bring in Mercedes consultants to rapidly diagnose necessary problems with the reliability and performance problems that the hybrid-power-unit has suffered from since pre-season.

The Japanese manufacturer’s F1 chief, Yusuke Hasegawa, said to Autosport: “Of course we have many people from Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault – so from that point of view we are ‘spying’ on their ideas.”

Red Bull is believed to have spoken up against the plan to help alleviate Honda’s woes, arguing against the use of shared engine plans as teams wouldn’t disclose aerodynamic secrets to each other. Red Bull had made a strong pitch for a supply of Honda engines in 2015, but was rebuffed, during the confusing period in which it did not have a supplier for the season ahead.

Renault, which supplies Red Bull, have also had reliability issues stemming from pre-season testing.

If Honda and Mercedes agree to co-operate, there is no tangible power to veto the arrangement from any of their rivals.

Intervention is a tough task because the FIA has already tightened the cost-side of engine regulations, by reducing the customer price of power units by €1 million this year with a limit on the number of power units allowed per driver to four.

Later this year, and in 2018, the FIA states that “constraints on power unit part weights, dimensions and materials, and on boost pressure will be introduced”, to reduce the amount of parts by nearly 50% and reduce engine costs by €3 million by 2018.

McLaren has only finished one race this year with Stoffel Vandoorne having finished 13th in Australia. Both Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso have failed to finish in China and Bahrain last weekend.

Honda’s Sauber supply deal inching ever closer to fruition

JA reported last week that Honda has made major steps in its engine performance after testing in Bahrain, and a deal to supply Sauber is becoming increasingly likely now. Honda has had conversations on and off with Sauber in the past so this is not a new concept. However the circumstances were not right before. Since Haas came on stream as Ferrari’s close ally and partner, Sauber has not enjoyed the same position as before.

Sauber is still using Ferrari’s power unit from last season, the final 2016-spec engine which was introduced at the Italian Grand Prix in September.

A deal with Honda will need to meet the deadline – to notify the FIA which teams a manufacturer will supply – on May 6th.

McLaren’s Racing Director, Eric Boullier, told Autosport, “I think more teams is better and more engine running is better. But there is a price to pay for that, which is deviating more resources into building more engines.

“Whatever happens, we are partners, so at some stage there will be a second team supply question, and I think we’ll have to support this. But we want to make sure it’s not detrimental to our partnership.”

After Sauber’s financial difficulties and its acquisition by Longbow Finance SA in July 2016, the deal came to light. Last summer, Honda also expanded its Milton Keynes base to increase capacity in case a second customer team was found.

The Swiss outfit might find it more commercially viable to source an engine from Honda next season, particularly with the aforementioned engine rules working to reduce costs, particularly in customers teams’ favour.

Do you think Honda should receive some help from Mercedes to level the playing field? Should Sauber use a Honda engine in 2018?Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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Hi James

Not sure if this is just internet gossip but did Mercedes help Renault who had a similar issue a number of years ago?

On another note when u planning to do a podcast? Its been way too long


I agree with Franco. I have been waiting to hear James on a podcast since he left the BBC. I am sure, there are others who would love James to do a podcast, at least every race weekend, if not at other times.


James do you have any idea on what progress was found by honda at the test?


Reliability upgrade for MGUH
Improved engine maps for better drive ability and reduced vibrations


I dont get it. Is it not against the basic ethos of F1 ? How is the Honda engine struggle any different than a car struggling with poor aero or tyre management ? Honda has been in motorsports for 50 years now and have won pretty much everything there is to be won. They are well capable of making a competent engine themselves. Besides, knowing the Japanese culture, they would be very hesitant to seek external help when they know they have the knowledge and tools to solve the issue on their own.


F1 engines are developed by dedicated sections that have little input from parent companies (Mercedes, Honda, Renault, apart from Ferrari which is special case) except money flow.


I was thinking the same thing. To accept this in a competitive setting is quite unusual. After all, Mercedes will not give them the real secret sauce, so in essence they will just pick them up on their feet so they can sleigh them honourably. Is that what Honda is signing up for here?

Or is this some type of Mercedes effort to make things right with McLaren after what they did to them. You know, took their drivers, their engines, their people. Is this some type of guilt?


There are a few strategic reasons why merc should do this. (I think anyway)
1. Bargaining power with Liberty, new agreements will need to be signed. Better to be a team helping to improve the spectacle ahead of new concorde (and payments) agreement
2. They'll get insight and know what Honda's doing which is far more beneficial than not knowing (even if the engine is inferior)
3. Shareholders happy as improved competition in the sport means more viewers/money so £'s per share increases in F1 and teams value does so in return.
4. Merc willing to help in return for.... Alonso (I know he's out of contract next year so this maybe the least likely reason).


Yes I think they should get assistance. The reality is no other manufacturers are eager to join F1. I think the FIA should just give Honda extra testing options or less penalties. It's obvious they are miles behind. I can't believed they ditched their original engine architecture from the last two years and followed Mercedes while Ferrari have made their own architecture successful. To me Mercedes therefore are best placed to help. That said... I think Honda should just be given a week to do extra testing on track.


I think the extra testing idea is a really good and pragmatic approach! It would take longer though, and perhaps the objective is to get Honda up to speed as quickly as possible.

It does however set an uncomfortable precedent. If I were Sauber, I would then be making a lot of noise about my aero and tyre management being sub-par, which is bad from the show, and I need/want help from Redbull so I can close the gap to the front runners.

Where do you set the boundaries on providing assistance to the lower order teams?


yeah yeah, I'd be standing at the FIA door right now petitioning to get consultancy with Newey or Fallows if I was FI, the midfield is tight tight...


Somehow this is all wrong. Engine collaboration of this magnitude is surely against the basic principles. I do find it all rather strange that mercedes would even consider 'helping' Honda out as they are supposed to be the enemy. Very starnge bedfellows. However, this has be counterbalanced by the fact that one or two Mercedes gurus could leave their employers and 'privately consult' then become re employed and no one would be the wiser.


Is it just me of does anyone esle think that Ferrari PUs have improved somewhat since the arrival of Jock Clear. He must have known a lot about the inner workings of the Mercedes hardware and software and Mercedes did enforce 12 months gardening leave.


And so sounds the death-knell for any other manufacturers wanting to come into F1. If Honda need help from outside after 3 years in F1, think of how complicated this PU must be. I get that it's a marvel of engineering ability, but that's just takes a miracle to get it right first time. Manufacturers looking to come into F1 will now think a lot more about investing time and resources into such a difficult project.

I'm glad this engine parity loophole is being exploited to help the fans and F1 in general. I also think this step should've been taken much sooner. We're 1/4 of the way through 2017. Assuming the new engine rules come in 2021, that *MIGHT* give McHonda 1-2 years where they can actually fight it at the front before the engine rules get reset again.

Lets examine the benefit of these PUs to the road car industry.
1) Everything's turbocharged, but that was mainstream prior to that too...this has just made the ability to market it more prominent.
2) None of the MGU-H or even MGU-K systems have made it in to mass marketed road cars yet, because the systems are too complicated and not cost effective for any mainstream car segment.

Formula E is stealing a march on F1s sustainability argument along with manufacturer support. I get F1 has to be socially acceptable too but it needs to move away from road relevance. Look at the LMP1 class...they try to be road relevant (bless them) and their cars look like spaceships. F1 needs to make LMP1 cars look, perform, and sound ordinary.


Hmmm.... I wonder if another engine manufacturer looks at this "approved help option" and decides to enter F1, knowing that their efforts will be assisted. This will save development costs and end the fear of total embarrassment on the track. Could be that this will encourage others to join the series?


'And so sounds the death-knell for any other manufacturers wanting to come into F1. If Honda need help from outside after 3 years in F1, think of how complicated this PU must be. Manufacturers looking to come into F1 will now think a lot more about investing time and resources into such a difficult project. '

Exactly. And many still maintain it would be 'the end' of F1 if they binned this engine with manufacturers fleeing the sport. When in actual fact it is probably the biggest barrier of entry there has ever been which is being played out to a tee by Honda failing miserably.

Going forward it needs to be simplified.. get rid of the MGUH and make it much lighter. I'd love to see a lighweight kers equipped V10 that sounds the business but I'm just dreaming.


Hi James,

I would appreciate massively if you could read this comment and give me your personal opinion based on your knowledge.

Quite a few F1 fans in social media think Mercedes already helped both Ferrari and Renault in 2015 and 2016. I recall that in 2015 Bernie Ecclestone made some noise about Ferrari being helped in the engine front by Mercedes because the poor form showed in 2014 was not good for the sport and Mercedes wanted fans to feel they were having to fight hard to win. Of course Bernie did not give any fact to support his assertments, he only threw the stone of speculation (something he is a master at) and although Toto Wolff denied Mercedes gave any help to Ferrari, Bernie's words were bought by many fans. So, now I see there is a school of thought that Mercedes trying to help Honda is not something new in this hybrid era because many think it was already done in 2015 and 2016.

Given your deep knowlegde of the sport, do you know if Mercedes really helped Ferrari / Renault in 2015-2016 or it was only Bernie playing a chess game with media to attract their focus?

In case there was any help (sth that I really doubt), could that be in the same scale of what Honda needs now?

Hope you can bring some light on this fascinating subject. Thanks in advance!


As a comment on your post to james....if Mercedes did give help to Renault then it didn't really help much did it? If i recall it was Red Bull's consultant Marion Illien that showed the way to an improved Renault PU.


'Red Bull consultant' Marion Illien is 1/2 of Ilmor Engineering, based in Brixworth and built engines for Indycar, MotoGP and Mercedes: then taken over by them to become Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines Ltd.
You mean that Red Bull consultant?


I will research this rather than give you a quick answer


Fantastic! No hurries James, I wish you can dig deep into this matter.... Your effort is very much appreciated. Thanks a lot!


Has this not happened before when Honda dominated? Ferrari were all at sea and there was a rumour Honda helped out......


Rumours, well chosen word....


Honda are a joke frankly. All they've accomplished by the abject performances is to embarrass themselves and to deprive the public of seeing Alonso performing at his peak at the front of the grid. For this they have damaged F1 and is unforgivable


What about all the great stuff they have done before in the sport? (prost vs senna) is that all put to one side because they have had a couple of bad years?


Looking back, I wonder how much of Honda's success in the late 80s was due to them sticking with a turbo when the transition was being made to atmospheric engines and also to McLaren's superb chassis. Honda also supplied Lotus during this time and they didn't light the world on fire with the Honda. And, if I remember correctly, it took Honda several seasons before they became competitive back then.

The engine they produced for BAR-Honda back in the Noughts didn't appear to be all that great.

I wonder if Honda simply aren't as good at designing and making F1 engines as their past reputation would lead you to believe. Their aura is based on a few short years of results when they were paired with the top chassis makers in the form of the Williams and McLaren teams.


How many decades ago was that? How many races did they win in you really think brawn would have won the championship with a honda engine ?


Doesn't matter how long that was, Honda has a tradition on f1, and a winning one, they might be in trouble at the moment, but you can bet, they won't give up, not before succeeding, no they won't .


Yeah, presumably Sauber can save a lot of money by buying the most rubbish engine available.


We're going to have a Japanese driver next year, as part of their deal, I presume.


commercial viability, Honda engines will be cheaper... And hopefully they fix things at some point in time, the longer they take to get things in order, forget championship column payments I'd negotiate reperations ($40m and the next year engine supply for free) from Honda for damage to racing image and respetability as a team. You know sort of like what Macca currently get


Unlike RBR who have been paying fortune for years for the second worst PU in F1

Torchwood Mobile


A lot of reports at the time, were that RBR were getting the Renault PUs that they were slagging off, for free, until they binned that contract to try and get Ferarri or Mercedes engines.

They have only been paying for them since they re-connected with Renault.

The fact that Renault is finally getting some revenue to spend on development, may be why there are improvements.


They still have 4 WCC tropheys in there show case. Not so bad is it? Marc


There is no way this should happen unless;
Honda poaches a Mercedes engine expert and then employs then full time.
What I do find slightly confusing is why they'd even consider it,I mean let's say they do and then start winning races and even championships,what sort of publicity are they gonna get out of it?
They'll always be referred to as the Mercedes B team or worse still the Mercedes H team.
I'd be very surprised to learn that if they approached the top Mercedes engine boffin with Alonso's paycheck that he'd say no.


Let's badge it the MerHondes McLaren


Maybe there is some clever quid pro quo going on: we give you some engine tech, but you give us your star driver for next season. Its pretty much what Mercedes did with Williams this year, right?


Merc help Honda?
Of course they must.

Alonso-Indy is just the thin end of wedge.
Next thing you know the entire McLaren 'F1' team will be emigrating to the USA.


That would be ironic on multiple levels- not least because McLaren's first championship winning F1 car was directly derived from its Indycar:


I'd say Yes, Mercedes should help Honda unless the Strategy Group agrees a different form of intervention.

It seems clear that Honda qualifies for intervention under the Barcelona lap time test. But I want to know what commitments, if any, the Strategy Group has made about actually providing such intervention.


The good of the many outweights the good of the one

So Honda is seeking for help from MAFIA.
Engine parity should be achieved before 2020 otherwise RedBull will quit F1.
Since RB+TR equals to 20% of F1, this is a real menace to the series.
I believe RB already achieved - and surpassed - its marketing goals in F1.
RB is Matetschitz, as Santander was Botin.
RB link to F1 is personal, unlike the Ferrari connection that is institutional.
So it Dieter retires, the RB board might decide to leave F1, as they already did to NASCAR once.
Mercedes AMG has to forfeit its dominance for the common good.
Williams F1 was once the dominant force but gave up the active suspension as "most of F1 teams" {Ferrari} couldn't design a similar solution for themselfes.
Merc had its fair share of success, but the time has come to "Let it go, lets it go".


Can understand the strategy group wanting parity, I mean, we would all love the racing to be closer. But this must be humiliating for Honda. Even though it's seems to be a necessity. Hope they get sorted quickly! It's the drivers I feel sorry for😳


you feel sorry for someone who has a slow and unreliable car and is compensated monthly for that with $$$...


If you had asked me last year, I would not feel sorry for Alonso, no way. But now I just think it's getting more than embarrassing for the whole team. If this keeps on going the way it is, I think stoffel"s career might be cut a bit short in F1. And that's a shame.🍻


I actually don't get it; from the perspective of the PU manufacturers they have spent hundreds of millions of $$$ only for their work to be artificially regulated towards parity. And the cherry on the cake is that you have to help out your rival by sharing all that expensive IP. If there is indeed any transfer of technology into road vehicles, Mercedes must surely object to passing that on to Honda?


I don't think it's something they have to. Which leads me to believe that Merc will at least want something in return. What that is, who knows.


Probably the disgruntled, pint sized, bearded, samurai tattooed chappy lurking round at the back of the Honda garage!


Yeah. He moves to Merc next year while Honda continues to pay his wages🤔 . A possibility 😉


I never would have thought a move like this was possible. If I was the boss of Honda, I'd be sooooo embarrassed right now.


There is a lesson to be learnt here 'complexity sometimes [most times] comes at an extremely high cost' and in this case the cost is not only financial but also in credibility. If Honda do indeed take guidance and instruction from Mercedes in how to build a competitive PU they will have lost considerable 'face' and i very much doubt that will happen. If it does it will be a backdoor operation and kept hidden from view. To do anything else would be to fly the white flag after spending probably $500 million or so. Serious money.


For now I do hope Merc are helping - good of the sport and all that... As a wider point this is surely another example of how F1s technical regs have repeatedly gone down a blind alley (*cough*, too much aero).

I genuinely never saw what was wrong with F1 cars running boggo racing engines, the object of a race is to see who can get to the line first not who can make a power supply so complex that even a company the size of Honda can't seem to manage it.

But if innovation is the thing I'll bring up another hobby-hoarse of mine: How about scrapping the idea of an engine formula completely? Make it a standard fuel formula where all teams must use a standard fuel formulation and maximum fuel allocation for each race?
If that allocation is the the same as now current PUs won't go instantly obsolete while anyone who wants to take a crack at an F1 engine can knowing there's a level playing field with regard to fuel that has no hidden development costs and they can do what they like as long as the car can make a race distance on the amount allowed.


Honda are so far away, Mercedes could give them everything and they'd be lucky to get anywhere near being able to race Red Bull, finishing half a minute behind the Mercs and Ferraris.

I can't imagine how much worse F1 would have been if Red Bull ran Honda PUs in 2015, 16 and 17 as well as McLaren. Basically delete every good piece of action Dan, Max etc have provided us!

Honda need help, right now, for themselves and for the future of F1.


and RedBull wud be in the media berating Honda so so so bad,,, hats off to Macca for remaining level headed in a situation that they created themselves


The first thing the FIA should do is give McLaren a dispensation on the 4 engines rule (at least until the August mid-season break) so they can keep refining the engine without the ludicrous grid penalties hanging over their heads. That way, if they do get some reliability and some speed, we might see Alonso actually achieve a few points which in turn may keep Honda in the game.


what difference does it make, then all team that runs outside the top ten shud get special dispenstation from all the rules then, but once u get into the top ten u abide by the rules...


I wouldn't mind seeing the rules tweaked such that the '4 engines' rule doesn't kick in until the driver scores a championship point. That way, if a team starts the season with a smoke machine, they can keep tweaking it until they feel that they've got it right and it stops blowing up week after week. It would be very hard to see someone abusing this rule in that they give away a championship point just to get a new engine in the following race.


I like the direction... but a single point finish can happen by pure luck and heavy attrition. And if VAN happened by luck to get 10th in AUS instead of 13th... they would not benefit from this the rest of season.

Why not relax some of the regulations for bottom 3 teams as a standing rule. Give them the opportunity pick themselves up. If you are in 8th or lower in Constructors... you can use as many PU's as you want during a weekend to help you get off the bottom. Or offer additional in-season testing days (accrued during the season), like 1/2 a day of testing per race that Constructor finished 8th or lower. McLaren could accrue several days of testing pretty quickly.
Also perhaps 1 additional week of pre-season testing for teams finishing in 7 or lower in previous season (or new entry), to help level the field from the start.


Then Ferrari should get the same benefit as they are behind Mercedes in reliability already. And Sauber should get Adrian Newey for one day every week.

Honda should not be in F1 if it cannot provide anything close to a competitive engine on its own. They are a 65 bln $ company. If they lack in house expertise they always have the alternative to buy it. Its laughable that they are the ones who at first didnt want outside help due to childish pride and now listening what Eric Boullier says they are begging to get everything handed to them on a silver plate for free ?!


How do Ferrari getaway with supplying last year's engines?
Merc and Renault manage to supply other teams with almost the latest spec and none of their customer teams can beat them. What is Ferrari afraid of? How can they get away with this? Why doesn't the FIA enforce its own rules?


Haas have the latest spec Ferrari PU. I think it was Saubers choice to take last years model.


Ferrari are "afraid" that Sauber can't pay the bill for the 2017 spec PU...


Well, of old, BRM got no help with either the V16 or H16. Alfa's last efforts were their own, unaided by Ferrari. Honda (last time they were in F1) took the hit alone, as did Toyota. And so on through history.

Of course Honda and M-B can do this; the regulations and contracts don't explicitly prohibit it. But, frankly, Honda (and all F1 participants) should be free to dare failure. I think they are at this point because the regulations long ago standardized the wrong things, namely things like bank angle, number of cylinders, bore centers, number of valves, weight, etc. This over-specification has, since the V10 era, resulted in ever more costly engines: With so many parameters specified, differentiation and advantage can only come from spending gigantic sums at the margins.

In short, it's another example of F1 illustrating the law of unintended consequences, here in the name of cost containment. False economy. This approach hasn't stopped the engine development war; it's simply forced those efforts into a very narrow, and thus costly, channel.

Engine suppliers ought to have broader scope for design and development. That should make it easier for them to control their respective costs. For example, Honda could have adapted its Superformula spec turbo four (an engine that from what I've read exceeds 600 hp in non-hybrid form, and was originally intended for use in a hybrid PU) to the job for a cost-effective, competitive solution.

If the FIA insists on standardizing engine parameters as tightly as they are, then they need to go the whole hog and solicit tenders for a single supplier for the entire field. Otherwise, at least loosen things up to extent of saying "no more than six cylinders," and leaving it to the manufacturers to decide how many and in what layout.

As it stands, we're about to get an M-B/Honda, a clear marketing coups for Mercedes: Any improvement Honda has from here out will be attributed to M-B, not their own efforts.


IMO Formula 2 should basically be Formula 1 but without some of the extreme parts - for instance, same engine minus the ERS components. And so on down the line until you get to Formula 4.


Can't get my head around the fact that Honda would seek help from another manufacturer. I also don't see why Mercedes in this case would want to help them too. I can't think of any sport where this would happen. I mean competitors helping each other. Non-sense. Maybe Red Bull should help Renault with their chassis as well, or Ferrari help Mercedes figuring out how to make their tires work better.
Just have a single engine maker and here you go, engine parity for all. Sounds terrible for me that l can tell you.
In the previous 3 seasons, the point system, impeded progress for lagging manufacturers to an extent, this particular rule being out, there should be no reasons for this kind of talk now. Let Honda figure out where they went wrong and fix their problems. Ferrari seem to have successfully done so and Renault seems on their way of doing so no? Much more rewarding for Honda to do it for themselves too. It is not like they have no racing pedigree or what. Marc


"It has emerged in recent weeks that Mercedes could consult Honda on improving its hybrid-engine’s reliability and power, although Mercedes has consistently declined to comment on this matter."

I am really sure that Merc would be very tight lipped about talking to Honda about how to improve the reliability of the Merc engine! Some curious plan to level performance by turning the Merc engine into a chocolate teapot that you got wind of James? Pretty sure that Lewis will not be happy about his engine suffering worse reliability and James....... that you got the order of that sentence just a little backwards!

Maybe that is an idea though? Just like tires are allocated at random, why not give out the engines at random. Everyone has to have similar mounting points on the chassis! Like Bernies water-sprinkler idea of a few seasons back.....


For now I do hope Merc are helping - good of the sport and all that... As a wider point this is surely another example of how F1s technical regs have repeatedly gone down a blind alley (*cough*, too much aero).

I genuinely never saw what was wrong with F1 cars running boggo racing engines, the object of a race is to see who can get to the line first not who can make a power supply so complex that even a company the size of Honda can't seem to manage it.

But if innovation is the thing I'll bring up another hobby-hoarse of mine: How about scrapping the idea of an engine formula completely? Make it a standard fuel formula where all teams must use a standard fuel formulation and maximum fuel allocation for each race?
If that allocation is the the same as now current PUs won't go instantly obsolete while anyone who wants to take a crack at an F1 engine can knowing there's a level playing field with regard to fuel that has no hidden development costs and they can do what they like as long as the car can make a race distance on the amount allowed.


The successive bigwigs at the FIA killed off the boggo racing engines. The FIA, paradoxically is the problem not the provider of the solution.


Very intriguing idea, one that deserves serious consideration by the FIA.


This is a problem that has its roots in the way that the new engine formula was introduced in 2013-2014: the rules that came in were broad scale, far too complex, and in too-short a time-frame, combined with the token system and limited testing. A staggered or incremental approach might have been better suited.

What we have ended up with is an arms race, in which some of the competitors were better prepared (i.e. those lobbying for these regulations, with the R&D in the background to match) and more focused (i.e. not directly competing for the championship at the time). Typical Sun-Tzu, seeking battle only when the war has already been won.

Honda were either going to be at a massive advantage from unlimited testing, or a massive disadvantage as they would have been ~18mths behind on development. It's turned out to be the latter.


I think mercedes are confident they will not be overtaken on the engine front by helping with a few consultants and may gain something they themselves never considered.
At the end of the day we can all look at published scientific papers but it doesnt mean we can all suddenly work at CERN.


Mercedes helping Honda is a bit like the Road Runner helping Wile E Coyote to run faster. The Road Runner doesn't want the Coyote to give up, as it lessens the entertainment. It might work while it knows there's no chance of it being caught by the Coyote.


I double direct technical input is possible given the complexity and possible differences in design.

Would allowing them some test days or so be sufficient? Or lowering the penalty on e.g. an engine replacement: they could be allocated 2 extra engines per driver for example. It also prevents them from loosing face, as they still have to fix it by themselves.

Tornillo Amarillo

Everything is possible really... After all Wolff and Hamilton are very-very happy that Ferrari is up at front now ! New F1 owners...

I don't know if fans appreciate that warm friendship in the cold down room between drivers before the podium ceremony.
I would like a new Kimi around, maybe Max.


I don't see how talk of Honda taking help from Mercedes addresses the 'Japanese Pride' issues the media have talked about when Honda have not elected to recruit PU engineers from other teams.

Also why would Mercedes give Honda a chance to win? In 3 years Mercedes have not allowed a customer team to win a race, they are unlikely to be transparent enough to give a rival engine manufacturer the winning formula.

Sauber Honda, to me, makes a lot of sense. For what ever reason the Mclaren Honda dynamic does not work. There is a communication barrier. Perhaps it is a cultural issue. Perhaps the Swiss based team can overcome these issues.


McLaren Horcedes with more Horce power!


I wonder why only Mercedes name suggested as a potential external consultant. Ferrari and Renault also now have decently competitive engines. Why would they not help?

I feel it is incorrect for Mercedes or for that matter any of the 3 manufacturers to help Honda. They should resolve the situation on their own. The original Ferrari engine in 2014, was a dud. However they have been working hard on it for the last 2-3 years and got it to being nearly level pegging with Mercedes.

If Honda's engine were to become competitive after Mercedes help, where would that leave Honda's reputation in terms of being able to produce competitive hybrids?

is there any precedent for such a case.

As regards Sauber being supplied by Honda, I feel it was a mistake for McLaren to veto Honda out of other engine deals, except for the first year. If Honda had more cars running last year, there situation today could have been much better.


There is an awful lot of nonsense being written about all this!

As I see it Honda came late to the party and have been developing in isolation trying to catch-up. Do they have better people or facilities than their competition?
Not really.

To date they've been unable to develop faster than their competitors (who have obviously not stood still).

So they went sh*t or bust over the winter by flipping their core architecture and this has evidently not worked. They also had to build their 'hybrid' expertise from scratch with regard to the hybrid / electronic aspects.

Given all of this it would have been frankly ASTOUNDING if they were anywhere near on performance parity by this point.

The only key take-aways for me are these -

1. 'Cost containment' is BS. Not happening at all. Anything governing current practices (lack of testing anyone?) linked back to cost containment needs to go out the window. Companies will always spend what they can afford - let's accept this and not fight it.
2. Honda's communications around the 2017 PU shortcomings were terrible and were the source of this embarrassment much more than their engineering
3. Things happen in F1 in a time-frame of 'seasons'... crap engine = bye bye season - come back next year. Getting incrementally angrier from one GP weekend to the next is unrealistic...


James, I have a question for you. Was giving Sauber 2016 engines completely down to Sauber’s finance issues? If it were for any other reason, I find it strange any manufacture wouldn’t give its customers current spec engines, as you are basically increasing the amount of ‘in season testing’ if you like, by gathering data on 2 more engines. Surely even it were down to finances, Ferrari could’ve helped Sauber out in some way to maximise their chance at effect power unit development?


May be F1 PU technology is not that road relevant after all. Merc may have invested hundreds of millions and realized that they can't use the tech in road cars. What is the best way to recoup the investment/make profit? Share/sell/license IP to another manufacturer - Honda.

From Merc perspective, F1 is a business with profits have to be made. From Honda's perspective, F1 is a business where losses have to be contained.


Hi James, what is happening in formula 1 (can it still be called that?) where an engine supplier is threatening to leave (in disgrace) unless they're given pointers from their competitors? If they want to hire staff from other engine suppliers so be it, but "consultants"?


This appears to the final admission that this Honda F1 project has (tragically!) been an unmitigated disaster...

Claim Reality
1) Claim: Showcase of Honda technical excellence; Reality: Still worst PU on the grid after 3-4 years development (including last years models)
2) Claim: We do it the Honda way don't need outside help; Reality: Apparently they've totally changed the organisation in March of this year including recruiting staff from competitors.
3) Claim: We're understanding our issues and are working to get on top of them; Reality: *Competitors* offering to provide them technical consultancy to stop the performance gulf becoming too embarrassing so an engine parity rule is brought in.

etc etc.

Sadly I'm now less able to associate Honda road cars/consumer engines with excellence than I was before they entered F1... which presumably was the main objective. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.


Honda had a bad start to the new pu era, with their concept and the token system they wasted two years. Their new power unit will come good, this new pu is basically not even 6 months old so they are way behind in the arms race. I put money on a Mclaren podium this season......without any help from Mercedes.


Japanese engineering was the best towards the end of the last millennium. 25 years from then and the German technology is way superior to the Japanese. How did the Germans accomplish this miracle?


This actually seems counter-intuitive...

If I am a potential engine manufacturer who wants to enter the sport, I am not sure if I'd want to now, knowing that I may be compelled to share any potential success or advantage with rivals who couldn't be bothered to simply steal my employees out from under me like any other reasonable outfit would do.


The simple answer is NO, they should not be allowed outside help & further there should not be an artificial parity of engine performance. That would be IndyCar racing, not F1.

However in the pragmatic modern F1 era, they have created such a complicated & expensive hybrid turbo PU (no longer called an engine), that the whole formula can't afford (politically) to lose another major manufacturer. This is especially true for Merc who want to keep this PU as long as possible.

Politics trumps pure equalised simple F1 rules.


I don't quite understand how they would be able to get help from outside without completely opening up any secrets to then be used by others. For all we know they could be massively more efficient or powerful in a certain area of design, and that information would then become known to whoever helps them, for incorporation or improvement in their own design - possibly negating any gaps or gains made.


Why not just go ahead and have a global Indy car series? F-1 has lost the theme. Please just shoot me.


To me, it's simple... Honda aren't cutting it. Not good enough. Either get it right or get out...


The interesting question is do mercedes whose F1 setup was handed over to Brawn with a cash dowry to run it for a year feel that they owe some moral support o Honda? I suspect that they do.


international assistance? did someone dig up the old ferrari international assistance (fia) joke?


Actually, nobody is asking if Honda wants to be helped. Everything so far points out that this is not the case and may be perceived in Japanese culture as a loss of face . If they wanted outside help, there are consultancies like Ilmor, there are high-level engineers that could have been 'poached' from other teams, but my understanding is that Honda has always seen F1 as a place to show it's own capabilities - something that unfortunately did not work out with their own team either.


Can't see this happening as the Japanese don't want to lose face, be even further embarrassed & admit failure. I also don't think it would be fair nor right to the other teams if they did receive outside assistance from Mercedes - Honda need to sort it out on their own & can bring in other experts to assist but not Manufacturers currently in F1 as they're competitors.


Why can't McLaren build their own F1 engines as they build their road car engines? Surely they have the money & can start this project by bringing in experts now for next year's championship.


Here's an idea on how to improve the Honda engine:

Ditch the turbo
Ditch the stupid electronics
Add 4 more cylinders
Increase the cubic capacity

Voila, a fantastic engine, it's simple cheap it performs well.


Force India and Williams have said they will be livid if Mercedes, their engine supplier, is to help one of their rivals overtake them.

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