Honda’s motorsport boss Yasuhisa Arai is confident that his squad can manufacture a power unit that can match Mercedes in terms of pace and reliability.
Honda, which last competed in Formula 1 as a constructor in 2008, returns to the sport next season, albeit as a works engine supplier to McLaren. The company faces an uphill task to catch Mercedes who currently has the best engine and energy recovery system. But the Japanese manufacturer is confident of matching its German rivals on track, with winning races very much in their eyesight.
“I have confidence that we will match Mercedes,” Arai told the official F1 website.
“Formula One is a very important part of our strategy - and winning is very important for Honda. We want to raise the awareness of our brand and I trust - I am a firm believer - that we will win races next year. And that will send out a very positive signal for our brand on a global basis,’’ he added.
Arai also ruled out the possibility of Honda testing their new power unit at the post-season test in Abu Dhabi, adding that January/February's Jerez test will be the first time we'll get to see their V6 engine in action.
“In the next couple of weeks we will run simulations and at the beginning of next year we will start to run on the track - very likely at Jerez. That will very likely be the first time to show the whole car, the Honda engine and the McLaren chassis - the Honda McLaren.”
He reiterated that Honda is willing to supply to more teams in 2016 but made it clear that McLaren will remain as its works team.
“In 2016 or after, if some teams or partners ask us to supply them too, we will take a look at that situation. But even in 2016 McLaren will be our main partner in F1. And even if we supply other teams from 2016 onwards our main focus will always be to win - to make the engine better through more data - and not necessarily to look at a return on investment. If you win that comes automatically.“