Honda is keeping a close eye on Renault’s power unit upgrade as it sees the French manufacturer as its closest current rival.
Renault has introduced a B-spec power unit at the Monaco Grand Prix, with Daniel Ricciardo getting the upgrade for Red Bull while Kevin Magnussen has it in the works car. Honda’s head of F1 project Yusuke Hasegawa told F1i following the power unit’s first test in Barcelona that it is closely monitoring the progress made by Renault.
With Renault also trying to close the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari, when asked if it provides Honda with a good benchmark, Hasegawa replied: “Yeah I think so, at this moment.
“Of course if they upgrade [the power unit] then it could give us a huge shock because currently it’s fair to say McLaren-Honda is a little bit quicker than the Renault, but if their upgrade makes them overtake us then we need to respond with something.”
The McLaren has looked competitive during practice sessions at a number of races this year but then struggled in qualifying, with Fernando Alonso saying the team’s rivals make a bigger step forward on a Saturday. Hasegawa views it as the opposite problem, with other teams being able to run comfortable under 100% during practice sessions.
“I think it’s vice versa. It’s because they have more power they have room to downgrade the power for practice. We are also using some practice modes on Friday but because our maximum power is not strong enough the drivers would complain that there is too low power! Of course we are also using low power on a Friday.”
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