Honda insists 2017 engine concept is not a “huge mistake”

2017 Russian Grand Prix

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Honda believes its engine concept for 2017 is correct despite McLaren suffering a disastrous start to its third season with their power units.

McLaren is yet to score a point this year and Stoffel Vandoorne will become the first driver to receive a grid penalty for changing engine components, just four races into the season.

However F1 project head Yusuke Hasegawa defended the Japanese manufacturer’s approach for 2017. “I don’t think we have made a complete mistake,” he said in today’s FIA press conference at Sochi.

Russian Grand Prix practice in pictures
“From last year’s performance we knew we had to change everything, not only the package but also the combustion, so that we try to modify the whole area. And some areas we succeeded, to reduce the weight and get down the COG [centre of gravity].”

“But definitely we couldn’t get enough power from the combustion. So, yes, it is just an excuse, but still we need time. But we don’t think we made a huge mistake. The direction was right.”

Hasegawa expects the potential of their 2017 engine will be realised later in the year. “But because the base concept is correct, so we believe we can make good progress at the middle of the season.”

Honda has left Formula One on more than one occasion in the past but Hasegawa downplayed suggestions its poor form in recent years could lead to another exit.

“Stopping the Formula One activity gave us huge damage [in terms of] technology catch-up, so we really need to keep this activity longer,” he said. “At this moment we are both very much committed to this activity and [management] are very supportive.”

He also indicated they may now be prepared to consider supplying more than one team.

“From the start of this Formula One activity we committed to support this Formula One society,” said Hasegawa. “So from that point of view it is duty, if we have to support multiple teams.”

“And also we are thinking it will give us some benefit to have two teams because we will have more data and more chances to make car running. So we don’t deny to have a second or third team.”

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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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    52 comments on “Honda insists 2017 engine concept is not a “huge mistake””

    1. I sincerely hope Hasegawa’s prediction is correct because the current situation is untenable.
      I do wonder the wisdom of of the current engine rules if such a major player cant compete and whether the technology will ever find its way down to everyday motoring.
      Can you honestly see your self driving round the block harvesting energy to enable you to visit the out of town retail park?

      1. Yes, because that technology already exists to a smaller extent on road cars.

        1. Go on name them

          1. Really?

            There’s loads, mate!

          2. Tesla, Prius, etc

          3. @Fran All electric and (plug-in) hybrid vehicles, so that includes at least the following brands: Toyota, Lexus, BMW, Renault, Tesla, Mercedes, Audi, Volkswagen, Nissan, Porsche, Ferrari, McLaren, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Honda, Opel/Vauxhall/Chevrolet, Citroën, Peugeot, Volvo and the list goes on.

            1. These only use braking energy.
              Did you really include Honda on that list.
              How many people do you know owns one despite being sunsidised by the goverment on some half hearted green agenda?
              Tesla? OK if you have a £100lk hanging around, poor example

            2. I agree with Fran.
              Let Formula E become the green series and get F1 back to the past days of relatively basic engines.
              Then auto manufacturers such as VW, BMW, GM etc. would be more willing to join in.
              Seeing what Honda is going through – the costs are prohibitive and such little progress is bound to have a negative effect on the others.
              Keep it simple!!

            3. Rick, why would manufacturers like BMW want to rejoin if you simplified the engines?

              When they were in discussions with the ACO about the regulations for LMP cars, they don’t want the series to dumb down the regulations – on the contrary, they made it clear that they wanted more complex systems, including hydrogen fuel cells and full electric LMP cars to be permissible as a condition of entry. It seems more likely that, if you did try to walk things back to how they were, then the rest of the world will walk past F1 as an increasingly obsolescent anachronism.

            4. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
              29th April 2017, 21:37

              anon, its rather sad you feel the measure the success of F1 by which major manufactures are involved. BMW can do one. Motorsports has been used and abused by manufacturers too often. F1 without them would be just fine, and fairer too.

      2. Fran
        28th April 2017, 16:04

        I sincerely hope Hasegawa’s prediction is correct because the current situation is untenable.
        It doesn’t appear as if Hasegawa san is any closer to getting it right than the last guy that had to fall on his sword. I thik that Hasagawa’s days may also be numbered.

      3. Knoxploration
        28th April 2017, 21:56

        F1 has had almost zero relevance to road cars in the last several decades. The whole “F1 development leads road car development” myth exists solely to make it easier for manufacturers to justify the cost, and to attempt to create a halo effect by creating the false perception in consumer’s minds that the product they buy is somehow “better” because of the connection to their favorite racing team.

        Don’t believe me? Put your money where your mouth is, and tell me a single thing which appeared in F1 before it was already in at least some road cars, any time in the last 25 years, let’s say.

        1. Just because it doesn’t look or perform exactly like a formula one car doesn’t mean that it’s not technology or techniques derived from f1. Aerodynamic techniques that were originally researched and used in F1 are now commonplace in the modern fuel efficiency push for car companies.

          Same with tire compounds. Do you think the tire companies did all the research into tread patterns and tire compounds that provide the best grip and durability for F1, and then just threw what they learnt into the bin?

          I’m not saying that you can directly link current cars to modern formula one cars, but technology is passed down.

          Engine design techniques used to increase fuel efficiency are being used in road cars. Same with carbon technology. It’s popping up more and more as companies target lighter weights for efficiency. Sensors and monitoring systems developed for f1 are now being used in your cars.

          It even impacts other aspects of life. Hospitals have adopted the system F1 teams use for pitstops and are using in for newborn babies.

          It doesn’t have to be first used in F1 either, as soon as a team adopts technology the F1 money machine is used to develop and refine it.

        2. Don’t believe me? Put your money where your mouth is, and tell me a single thing which appeared in F1 before it was already in at least some road cars, any time in the last 25 years, let’s say.

          Carbon brakes.
          Carbon survival cells.
          Active suspension.
          Kinetic Energy Recovery.
          Onboard tyre pressure monitoring.
          Active aerodynamics.
          I actually could go on about flat underfloors, electronic programming/strategies, various other engine related improvements regarding materials science but I fear it wasted on the comments section.


          1. Paddle Shifters – Ferrari invented these in the 80s
            Lubricant Technology – Shell did a lot of work with Ferrari in this area
            Fuel cleaning agents
            Engine cooling technology – Merc are using ideas from the F1 V6 in their new S-Class
            Semi automatic gearbox
            Integrated Electronics to control ABS, Traction Control and ESC
            Rear view mirror – ok they were first seen invented in the Indy 500 in 1911

            In many other cases F1 and other racing series have taken experimental ideas, perfected them and the technology trickles down to production cars. An example of that is Renault perfecting DOHC.

            1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
              29th April 2017, 21:51

              These technologies are fantastic but they could have been developed more cheaply outside of F1 and they don’t make F1 better.

              I want an F1 that has plenty of teams that can afford to be competitive. What’s the point if you know who’s going to win before the start. That’s not racing. It’s not entertaining and its not sport.

      4. Engine rules are fine. Honda joined due to these rules. They left when there were naturally aspirated v8’s. If the rules changed because they are rubbish then Vettel, Hamilton et al should be held back to allow Palmer to be at the same level.

    2. What to say. They are the largest engine manufacturer in the world, yet they fail so miserably that they’re wasting a perfectly good chassis and a great pair of drivers for yet another year. I do not believe they will catch up in this power unit era anymore, and rather than continue the struggle i’d like to see the back of them. They can go do their homework and re-join in 2021.

      1. I agree, you see that now the token system is gone Ferrari and Renault made huge gains, especially Ferrari. But Honda is the only team that’s further off the pace than they were last year. Let Toyota take over, please.

    3. I think the issue is cultural. Reminds me of the Toyota F1 approach. Engineering arrogance.

      1. Good point. Toyota was though far better prepared , having a team based in Europe . Even so , it didn’t end well. I reckon Honda will not be competitive before 2019 , if ever .

        1. Why 2019 Virgil?

          1. [sorry, not Virgil here] Because for 2018 they would have to already be developing a smashing engine. Clearly they are nowhere.

            1. They’ve got a smashing engine.

              It smashes itself to bits about 4 laps from the end of the race.

              or on the formation lap.

      2. Toyota was much more successful. Honda would not even dream of a front row start. Toyota was as least as good as a raft of manufacturers who had a quiet cup of coffee in F1 and then disappeared.

        1. Not if you take into consideration their huge budget. They massively under performed against that.

    4. Given the fact that they were out of F1 for so long and thus lacked knowledge of the current tech, one would think that they would have done whatever was necessary to poach some talent from Merc, Ferrari or Renault. Trying to learn as they go in such a public way is not good for the brand and F1 as it may discourage others from entering the fray.

    5. They had a free year in 2015 to develop the engine and look at what the others were doing, no tokens involved…
      So they already disappointed on 2016 when they should have come out with a huge advantage against those who developed their engines under the token system. 2017 is just a confirmation that they don’t have a structure (and/or a culture) in place fit for the development of an F1 engine.

      1. Finally! Even though you’re off by a year, at least someone else realizes Honda had a free year in 2014 to develop an engine, while already having a pretty good idea of what the target (Mercedes) was. They had all of 2014 to understand what they needed to develop, and to do essentially unlimited testing (“What’s that car racing around Suzuka with a V6 turbo? That’s… a test engine for the NSX! We’re thinking of going to Le Mans with the NSX. Yeah… that’s it….”) and show up with a tested, developed engine.

        They showed up with a crap engine that was unreliable.

        After two full seasons of development, they were finally getting the 2016 engine to the point where it was competitive and reliable… and threw it all out for 2017, and started all over again like it’s 2015.

    6. Is it me or is the McLaren pit a lot less crowded than normal this season?

      1. It looks less crowded, and lower tech. It used to be that the fans they used were those weird Dyson ones that have no blades, and now they use the normal shop fans that are far less expensive. It’s a small change, but indicative of their current situation.

    7. This seems desperate. And hugely optimistic.

      Vandoorne takes a massive 15 place grid drop for having to replace more an entire season’s allocation of PU components already. It will be a long season for him as he is likely to take regular penalties of a similar severity all the way through the rest of the season. It’s such a shame for such a promising talent. Alonso isn’t far from finding himself in the ‘grid drop loop’ either.

      I would say that Honda’s approach has been, at best, a “huge mistake”, and at worst, a complete disaster.

      To me, it looks like they need to make significant progress just to complete a whole weekend reliably, let alone be competitive. I find it highly unlikely that they’ll be able to make enough on an in-road to their deficit to make a meaningful difference to Vandoorne’s season. So, yeah. Honda have dropped the ball. Massively.

      It’s also worth considering just how deeply this situation affecting McLaren’s engineering development of the new chassis regulations when they can’t push their car to the fringes of the performance envelope without fear of the PU exploding in some way, and thus, incurring more penalties.

      Even if, by some miracle, Honda provide McLaren with a PU that can run at the sharp end, McLaren are well behind on chassis development because they haven’t been able to run at ‘full chat’ for a while now.

      I hope a solution is found soon, but it doesn’t look like McLaren will be knocking on any doors any time soon. The new season is barely in to it’s full stride and I find myself already crossing my fingers for McLaren in 2018.

      1. Its depressing and I don’t even follow McLaren, however their chassis can be far off the current Red Bull

      2. As I understand the current rules, yes, Vandoorne gets a grid penalty for changing components, but the penalties are all served at this GP. So say he Qualifies for the race at 15th place, he gets demoted to 20th place by virtue of the 15 or whatever amount of penalties the Stewards deem, after this GP he is freed of those penalties. If he happened to also Qualify for the next GP at Spain at 15th place, then he’d start there at 15th.

        1. @drycrust I meant that they’ll be given further penalties on account of further PU component changes.

          It’s so early on to be given a penalty of this kind, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that both drivers will face further sanctions because the Honda is so unreliable.

    8. It is not a mistake, its a Mercedes carbon copy.. Layout thus must be best in class.. it is just that their execution is weak..

      1. The concept of any complicated integrated system lies much deeper than its layout.

        Is a Lada Niva a carbon copy of a modern Range Rover because they share the same basic layout?

        It’s not a carbon copy of anything. It’s all original Honda.

        1. @andybantam Well they firsted with a size-zero concept, which was appallingly bad. And now they have coied the Mercedes concept and are still miles off the pace.

          Doesn’t look like they know what they are doing to me…

          1. So, in surmise. They’ve made a mistake. :)

      2. Looking at the retirements for last year, it does seem the McLaren-Honda car got more reliable as the season progressed, so I’m expecting the same thing to happen this year.

        1. On the flip side, major upgrades and improvements to the any of the hardware parts counts as a component change for that respective part.

          In other words, they might have to take a penalty to bring a PU update.

          These regulations do seem to punish the strugglers!

      3. If its a carbon copy the photographers were wasting their time today chasing Ocon’s car

    9. I can’t understand why they are struggling so much and taking so long to catch up. So F1 testing is really restrictive, I get that. But I’m assuming Honda have these engines running 24/7 in the factory, testing components and reliability, improving each time and getting more power out of it? There’s nothing stopping that sort of testing is there?

      1. Exactly!

      2. Maybe they don’t care about results. Maybe this is strictly an R&D project.

    10. Well we don’t know what 2017 may yet turn out to be for Mclaren, but since the start of 2013, it’s been down hill all the way. First it was 2 bad car years with the best engines, then 2 years of bad engines, now a fifth year starting even far worse than the previous 4.
      How can a team have it so bad.
      If they offended someone, they need to beg for forgiveness. As ridiculous as that sounds, perhaps they all need to hold hands and say, ” Lord please lead us out of this darkness”.
      I can’t believe this is the mighty Mclaren.

    11. So here’s an alternate theory from Sam Collins at Race Car Engineering, who I’d consider a relatively credible source.

      Its quite interesting. He thinks the change in fuel has had a massive effect on the engine’s performance. Its funny how no one else has been talking about this.

    12. Last year they were quicker than the 2015 STR engine. I understand this new engine is absolutely new concept but there’s still novice mistakes on Honda’s outfit.

    13. The accompanying Tech Corner interview is interesting as well.
      Talks about Sauber and 2016 Ferrari engine flex in the 2017 chassis. Is the Honda too flexible? Not easily cured unless a sub chassis is crafted.

      Dynometer testing is good for static analysis and fuel tuning, but as said in the interview you need track testing to replicate actual centrifugal and twisting loads in the chassis. One cannot measure to effectiveness of baffles in an oil catch tank or engine flex on a dynometer. It has to done on track.

      1. Interesting, thanks

    14. I agree, Honda got this year’s engine completely right… for GP2. LOL

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