It seems that Honda does not completely trust itself with developing power units. They have decided to keep their 2017 Honda engines available if there are problems with its 2018 specification. Honda have revamped their engine design over the 2016-17 winter. However, a problem with the oil system threw a spanner in the works at the start of the season.
But the Japanese manufacturer is sticking to its guns for 2018. They have the option of using the 2017 spec for the opening races if the 2018 engines prove unreliable in pre-season testing. Outgoing project leader Yusuke Hasegawa said, “It’s a great help [to stick with the same concept]. We need more performance and reliability. It’s much better at this stage of the season. We haven’t decided next year’s complete specification but at least we have a back-up plan, which is the current engine. So I’m sure we can start the season well next year.
He said that the engineers modified the engine concept from last year to this year. Hasegawa stressed on the fact that it was a necessary update for the Japanese manufacturer. Time was the biggest factor for Honda’s shortcomings. They were unable to complete the engine in time for winter testing. Honda had a good thing going but were pressed for time. Yasuaki Asaki and Toyoharu Tanabe will succeed Hasegawa when he leaves at the end of the year. Hasegawa believes that the concept can get Honda on terms with its rivals.
He said, “We chose almost the same concept as other competitors so from that point of view, there is no reason why we can’t catch up with the others”. This year, Honda has taken advantage of input from outside consultants. It has helped the Asian giant fast-track improvements, But they were rather coy on what they have been working with.
From 2018 onwards, Honda plans to continue with their partnerships and possibly extend them. Hasegawa continued, “We started many collaborations with other partners, the identity of which we don’t normally disclose. We can see results from that project. We will continue those collaborations. There’s no reason to stop. We even have to enhance the collaboration more. I understand most people think Honda has tried to do it by themselves. But it’s not right. We’re happy to invite outside resource, and we do.
He understood that there are some limitations and obstacles, such as the language barrier, the geographical barrier, and the item difference. Honda knows that the job will not be easy. Hasegawa insisted that they need to maximise their domestic performance. They have no qualms about getting outside resource because operations are naturally increasing.
To be frank, it is quite clever that the Japanese manufacturing giants have a backup plan in the form of the 2017 Honda engines.