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Honda Planning One More Big Upgrade for McLaren

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McLaren-Honda MCL32

Instead of focusing on several small improvements for McLaren, Honda will change its engine development strategy for the remainder of the 2017 Formula One season to involve just one big upgrade with only six races to go.

Honda’s development plan had been aggressive so far this year in its attempts to mend the relationship with McLaren, with upgrades most recently introduced at Monza and Spa, though that hasn’t stopped the Woking-based team from striking a deal with Renault.

But because the teams are limited to five engines per season, upgrades mean grid penalties, and Honda is keen on avoiding giving Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne any more of those, even if it might mean slight improvements to the car’s performance.

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“One of the points is we want to minimize the engine upgrades for the rest of the season, but that is because we’d like to get the maximum results within this year,” said Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda F1 project leader.

Previously, Honda had made upgrades at the cost of short-term results because the improvements would carry over to the next year, where earning maximum points would hopefully matter more. “But now we won’t be working together with Stoffel and Fernando next year, that means we want to concentrate on this year’s results with McLaren,” said Hasegawa. “I prefer to score more points this year, I’d like to contribute to this team most of all.”

However, Hasegawa is unsure as to when the big upgrade will be introduced. With the first free practice session starting in two days, Malaysia is unlikely. After that is the Japanese Grand Prix, and on home turf one imagines Honda will be unwilling to take any penalty if it can avoid it. “The US could be a very good potential circuit for us based on the last year’s results,” Hasegawa suggested.

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News Source: Autosport