Honda motorsport chief Yasuhisa Arai says he is still targeting podiums by the middle of the season with McLaren.
After five races of the new McLaren-Honda partnership, the team has still yet to score a point, with Fernando Alonso retiring from the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday and Jenson Button struggling for pace. However, with both cars reaching Q2, the progress from the first race of the year is clear, and Honda remains confident it can continue that momentum to challenge the front runners.
Asked if he expected more by this stage of the season, Arai replied: “Yeah, unfortunately the Spanish Grand Prix was an unexpected situation.
“But we believed we could get points, but unfortunately we had trouble on Fernando’s car, so it was a very pessimistic result. But maybe in Monaco or Canada we will have a much better chance of getting points, and then to achieve a podium in the middle of the season – we hope.”
Confident Ferrari and Williams are within reach given a few more races of improvement, when asked if challenging Mercedes was also possible, Arai replied: “By the end of the season we should achieve that. That is our aim, the target.”
Admitting he has "big pressure" on his shoulders to deliver for Honda due to McLaren's history with the Japanese engine manufacturer, Arai agrees with Ron Dennis that the partnership can dominate F1 again.
“I believe, I strongly say, we can have that success, and we can be dominant in Formula 1. You’ll see next year, maybe in a near season we can achieve that.”
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