Honda realise need for engine “makeover” in 2017 – Button

2016 Russian Grand Prix

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Jenson Button says Honda recognise the need for fundamental changes to their F1 power unit to bring them on terms with the front-running teams.

Asked if Honda needed to change its engine design philosophy for 2017 Button told NBC: “I think with the way the engine is, yes, I think it’s difficult to extract the power that we feel that we need. And that’s not me saying that, that’s Honda.”

“And that’s why the makeover for next year. They’ve made some big steps this year with the engine but I think to make the big step to the top teams is very difficult.”

Button said McLaren have got on terms with the midfield runners this season but more is needed to bring them up to the level of the front-running teams.

“I think [we have a] really good understanding of the aero on the car and the direction we need to go with the aero on the car,” he said. “The crosswinds, the way that the car is feeling under braking is very strong but there are still areas we are not strong enough compared to the top teams.”

“Compared to the middle teams we’re stronger, I should think, in terms of how the car feels. But we want to compare ourselves to Ferrari and the Mercedes. There’s areas where we need to improve. We’re working on it.”

2016 Russian Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    21 comments on “Honda realise need for engine “makeover” in 2017 – Button”

    1. It’s amazing how every year McLaren find they know exactly what’s wrong with this year’s car in order to make next year’s car a frontrunner, only to have next year’s car fall flat on its face straight out of the gate in winter testing.

      1. @hairs I agree. The engine situation is hard to digest, yet after the form of 2013 and 2014 McLaren can’t put all blame to Honda.

        In 2015, some believed McLaren’s chassis was 3rd or 4th quickest which is especially disappointing considering the lengths, Honda went into making a good PU for chassis design. This year the PU has shown much better performance prompting some to point out that STR’s engine is the least powerful on the grid, but where is STR relative to McLaren? McLaren only snatched Prodromou because RBR had no use for him, McLaren’s shortcomings are going to eventually condemn McLaren to being a “B team”

      2. Agreed. If they would let them all do more testing the field would certainly be more competitive. If McLaren/Honda running in the back of the field isn’t proof I don’t know what is.

        1. RaceProUK (@)
          29th April 2016, 0:04

          If there was more testing, yes the McHonda would be better. But then so would all the other cars.

        2. @wesley

          Yep. McLaren certainly had the knack for making the best job of developing a car throughout a season. The lack of testing has certainly curtailed that.

          Deciding to go “revolutionary” rather than “evolutionary” also perhaps wasn’t the best idea design philosophy wise.

    2. Yay Honda have grasped the nettle and accepted they need a big turbo. Let’s hope the lesson in humility isn’t lost either. Shame about the rest of this year but 2017 will come around.

      1. @lockup Yep, Honda thought they had been smart in copying the Merc philosophy and then take it to the extreme, after the abu dhabi test in 2014 they knew they were in trouble. Honda has not only arrived late to the party and weren’t humble enough to recognise their mistake unlike Ferrari who redesign their engine after the first fiasco.

        1. Yeah Ferrari understood that in F1 sometimes you lead and sometimes you follow. The weirdest thing @peartree is that everybody knew quite early in 2014 that a big part of Merc’s success was Lauda’s idea that they incorporate a chassis into their dyno, so they had the cooling, pu and aero all optimised together. Then most of a year later Honda delivered an engine that the car simply couldn’t cool.

          1. @lockup

            Yeah Ferrari understood that in F1 sometimes you lead and sometimes you follow

            Ferrari haven’t come up with anything innovative since 2008. Since 2010 they’ve been following Red Bull, and since 2014 they’ve been following Mercedes. The only thing they tried to innovate was a front pull rod suspension, which they scrapped after 3 seasons of struggles.

            I have to respect Mclaren’s vision to innovate rather than follow, as they might end up with Ferrari’s consolidated 2nd best car year after year, but their strategy of size zero was a brain fade moment that’s lasted since 2014.

            Currently, they would be better at cutting their losses and just following the leaders.

            1. Yes was that wheel covers @todfod?

              On McLaren, I wonder if Ron is beginning to have thoughts about his own engine? Now Honda are behind in combustion too. The road car business is doing okay.

            2. @todfod McLaren chassis 2nd best, 2012 was a long time ago.

        2. Exactly in Ferrari heads rolled for this, and look at them now.

        3. What Merc philosophy you believe Honda copied?

    3. 2 years to apply simple wisdom… Lol how can they compete with this kind of flexibility?

      Ironically all teams are now on to size zero already, while Honda is upsizing.

      It was a failure long time comming, from 2014, they had Mercedes engine there, they saw it was good, they observed big hunking truck daimler turbo… And went and made size zero tiny turbo that spins really fast…

      To gain aero performance? A team that placed silly flaps on rear suspension in 2014? Geez.

      But ok, they try small turbo in 2015 fail miserably… And then try again in 2016. And now after 3 races they decide to redo the engine?

      What stoped them redoing it this year? Mercedes dont seem to be giving up much engine performance for efficient aero. Neither does Ferrari.

      McLaren should atleast copy rivals well for start….

      1. I was surprised when, in the time between seasons, McLaren seemed more interested in their “Size Zero” concept than getting more power out of the Honda engine.

    4. They wont be able to redesign the engine for this season yes? Meaning its going to be another dire year.

      Its very obvious that Mclaren are hiding behind Honda’s problems. Fernando and Jenson have been very positive, but I recall reading an article from Gary Anderson during pre-season testing who was basically saying the Mclaren looked a handful around the corners. He went on to say that last year’s car appeared to handle much better.

      With Red Bull finishing on the podium, and Renault making up the rear of the grid, it shows that you can still be quick with a non standard setting power unit. Same goes for STR. They are able to compete and challenge the midfield runners with the least powerful PU in the field.

      In all honesty. Mclaren appear to be a bit lost, I hope they have a plan. I wonder if Jost Capito’s imminent appointment will make a difference.

      1. Its very obvious that Mclaren are hiding behind Honda’s problems.

        I would think that their problems are compounded by Honda’s problems, but yes, having a disastrous PU takes the limelight away from an average chassis.

        Gary Anderson during pre-season testing who was basically saying the Mclaren looked a handful around the corners. He went on to say that last year’s car appeared to handle much better.

        Last year’s car was as slow as a Honda City. It better look more under control when it’s carrying half the speed in to corners.

        I wonder if Jost Capito’s imminent appointment will make a difference.

        He has his work cut out for him. I can’t remember any new team principal coming in to F1 with such a large mountain of challenges on his shoulders. Best of luck to the guy, he’s really going to need it.

    5. It was just a matter of time before Honda threw the towel in on their whole engine layout. It sounded ridiculous right from the start to focus on slightly tighter rear end packaging when everything has been about raw grunt from power unit. It was really amateurish thinking from both Ron and Honda, especially when they all witnessed the mistakes made by Ferrari and Renault in 2014. Instead of learning from their mistakes, they tried to reinvent the wheel, and refused to see the signs that were slapping them in the face ever since Abu Dhabi in 2014.

      Glad they finally scrapped this philosophy, but let’s face it, with the amount of learning required for the new layout, coupled with the lack of in season testing, it will take at least 3 more years for them to become a front running team again. Looks like 2020 will be the earliest opportunity if they play all their cards right

      1. @todfod

        And in 2020 contracts are coming to an end anyway.

        I bet they’re thankful the engine equalisation is coming in.

        1. @thef1engineer

          Honda will need all the other engine manufacturers will have to drop their hp output to GP2 levels if engine equalisation is coming in to play.

          Honestly, Honda just made engine equalisation a whole lot more difficult because they will be running a disastrous power unit for 2 years before scrapping it and taking on an entirely new design. I cannot see engine equalisation coming in as early as 2017, as it will be the 1st year Honda will be running the new PU. It’s funny how a Honda disaster might actually help Mercedes in keeping that PU advantage for another season or two.

          The only thing that could help Honda now is a Get out of Jail card. If other teams and the FIA scrap the token system for Honda for 2016 mand let them introduce the new PU in this season, it could help them make up some ground.

    6. Many commenters here (me included) were saying during the off-season that the size zero philosophy is doomed. In an engine era, why one would compromise the engine for the sake of aero, and do this two years running, is beyond me.

      That said, one should also take a look at the McLaren chassis a bit closely. Is it really that good any more? Last year, they may have been 3rd or 4th best but that was because they were the only ones who had size zero. Now, merc, Ferrari and others have also tightened their components and made the body slimmer. So, McLaren chassis also is probably only 7th or 8th on the grid.

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