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Hasegawa: We had to take risks

NEWS STORY
14/09/2016

It's fair to say that in its second full season back in Formula One, things have improved somewhat for Honda, and thereby McLaren.

Not only has the Woking outfit scored almost double the points that it scored in 2015, there is a genuine positivity about the team.

However, while many feel performance has been hit and miss, with the Honda power unit suffering poor reliability, Fernando Alonso insists that the team is on the verge of something big, a significant breakthrough.

Honda's Yusuke Hasegawa claims that the Spaniard's conviction is based on a new confidence within McLaren-Honda, as the Japanese manufacturer, unlike 2015, begins to take more risks.

Unfortunately, this has led to reliability issues, but Hasegawa is convinced that the new approach will reap dividends.

"At the winter tests, we were thinking our car performance was not bad to get points. So I decided to start the season with very marginal performance settings so reliability would be the first priority for us," he told Motorsport.com. "But after the Chinese GP, where we finished 12th and 13th, and everybody finished the race, I understood that just finishing the race meant we wouldn't get anything. So we had to take some risks.

"So from Russia we started to use higher ignition settings and higher performance settings, and it was directly related to some problems with the engines. But I understood we had to take some risks. That increased some issues unfortunately and also at Spa it was the same thing. We needed higher performance, which is why we introduced the new Spec 3 engine, but we didn't have enough time to set up and tune and check. So that made us have so many issues over Spa/Monza. But it is what we needed to do."

Asked about Carlos Sainz' claim that Honda has made up half the performance gap between the 2015 and 2016 Ferrari engines, Hasegawa admits: "It is natural because we were starting far behind.

"We had to catch up much quicker than other teams," he continues. "So as a ratio of the performance gains, of course it is faster. But once we get closer, from that point on it becomes difficult to get even closer.

"Last year it was very difficult to evaluate progress because reliability was the biggest issue," he admits. "Also they couldn't score points consistently, so it was difficult to see their progress.

"But from a power unit point of view they were improving their performance. So from that point, the ratio of improvement wasn't a big difference. I think we are proud to keep the same level of improvement from last year to this year."

Despite the nightmare that was 2015, the relationship with McLaren has improved, and this has greatly aided progress.

"The relationship is getting better although it is natural because it is the second year," confirms Hasegawa. "Because of that we can introduce some of their technology from them. One of the things is the induction box. We asked them to design and asked them to produce it. They have a huge good factory for the carbon manufacturing, so it makes sense to ask them.

"I don't know exactly what they were doing last year, but with the communication and conversation we decided to operate closely, and it is fluid I think. We speak many times, as a team. There is no line that separates Honda and McLaren."

And looking ahead...

"For next year, without tokens we can completely redesign the engine inside the regulations," he reveals. "So we started our combustion chamber and packaging from the zero point. The combustion and the ICE will be the biggest difference.

"We cannot disclose the complete package right now but the name of the engine... the size zero," he adds. "All engines need to be smaller as a package, so we don't want to give up the name of 'size zero'. But of course we will repackage.

"It is difficult to say what is different, we modified many areas but it is difficult to say if it is a completely different engine."

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1. Posted by Thomas1, 15/09/2016 7:14

"It is nice to hear that the Honda F1 Chief Mr. Yusuke Hasegawa San talking about taking risks in engine building, testing and reliability and integration issues. That is what every team does for a living either for road cars or in racing. Nobody hands out a winning engine on a platter at least not yet!
The “nobody” in me says that Mclaren team is foolish to waste their team expertise, F1 woning race drivers and management's immense talent towards wining and not worry about engine performance and reliability issues (a la Red Bull style). Put the engine in and management and figure out palatable description for losing! All the talent of McLaren engineers, teams, fans and advertisers budgets is going under-utilized for the sake of one engine maker. The McEngineers should be challenged in every day and every race! Anything less is “Hara-kari”. Nothing is worth dying for. You won 6 F1 Driver and constructor championships. The next day it is History and forgotten. One is in F1 for the Challenge at the Highest Level, Dynamisms, Maxing out Human Potential, Thrill and the NOW moment! Everything else is a scaffolding to reach the Top and to be cast aside!
Here is a humble proposal to consider! Buy one of the existing teams and label it “McLaren Lite (“McLite F1”) and attach the development efforts of Honda with that team entirely. It starts off with the best McLaren production chassis at this point in time and a best set of McEnginers on loan!
The parent McLaren team gets one of the top 2 team’s engines (Mercedes or Ferrari) and goes to F1 Racing again to win races from Day 1! This injects thrill into F1 and more action! The McEnginers and team will be happy again! If and when Honda engines become top performers, the fans will know and ask for Honda engines! Meanwhile, the McLaren boss and shareholders will be enjoying F1 wins and Glory and money inflow!

Creation and integration of engines or any complex object was never easy! It is like “Weighing five pounds of live frogs in a basket”. You get one under control but another frog jumps out! The change regulations every few years, one starts afresh! F1 engine building is a culture to be continued without interruption to have a chance of winning! This is one humble opinion of an F1 "PitPass" reader with due respect to Honda's engine prowsess!
"

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