New engine comes with a risk, admits Honda boss


Honda boss admits that the company's decision to redesign its engine for 2017 is a gamble.

With the dreaded token system now dead and buried, Honda, like Renault, has opted to completely overhaul its engine in time for the new season.

Amidst talk that Honda was planning something radical, it was McLaren technical director Tim Goss who finally let the cat out of the bag.

"For 2017, the Honda engine architecture and layout have been altered to serve both for performance and packaging needs," he revealed early last month. "The new power unit takes much of the learning from the past two seasons, but has been specifically redesigned for this season."

On its return to the sport in 2015, Honda famously opted for the so-called 'size zero' concept, and it was the extremely tight packaging arrangement at the rear of the McLaren which most cited as the cause of many of the problems surrounding the Japanese manufacturer's dreadful debut season.

"It was like playing Whack-a-Mole," admitted (then) engine boss Yasuhisa Arai, "As soon as we resolved one problem, another popped up."

With the scrapping of the unpopular token system, Honda has taken the opportunity to move away from its own previous design and is understood to have followed the example of Mercedes which has the compressor at one end of the engine and the turbine at the other, whereas the Japanese manufacturer's previous design featured a split turbo and compressor within the engine V-bank.

Whilst Honda, and McLaren, is hoping for a significant step forward this year, Yusuke Hasegawa admits the move is not without its risks.

"The concept is completely different," he told Autosport. "It's very high-risk, we don't know a lot of things about that new concept. We know it will give us a performance advantage but the biggest risk is whether we can realise that potential this year.

"We need to concentrate on the ICE for this year," he admitted. "If we improve the engine itself, which means boosting exhaust gas energy, we need to boost the turbine otherwise we cannot perform at the same level in terms of deployment.

"We still have to do some tests and there will be some trial and error," he added. I hope we have understood the direction and the elements to focus on. But it's not easy to combine the elements to realise the improvements on the ICE completely."

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Published: 14/02/2017
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