Honda would not have seen much benefit from delaying its F1 return by an extra year, according to Yasuhisa Arai.
McLaren started the 1.6-litre V6 turbo era with a Mercedes power unit in 2014 before switching to Honda this season. Despite much fanfare surrounding the partnership, Honda struggled with reliability issues form an early stage and was largely uncompetitive as it couldn't make major changes to its power unit due to regulation restrictions.
Honda motorsport boss Arai admits his optimism faded away as the team had to head to Australia underprepared, but he believes track running was crucial to resolve fundamental issues.
“So a year ago I set a very optimistic forecast, but at that time I knew that there were many troubles ahead but most of all the difficulty at that time was with electrical issues," Arai told F1i during an exclusive interview. "Wire harness or control unit etc. I thought that we could fix that. But after the fixes there were many issues regarding the hardware, the MGU-H, MGU-K, the ERS.
“At that moment [in Abu Dhabi] we were very positive but after that there were many issues and we realised it would be quite a difficult year after Abu Dhabi. Especially in winter testing at Jerez and Barcelona, where we began to see hardware trouble, ERS trouble, so I put away such an optimistic feelings from there onwards. Melbourne came quickly without us being able to prepare everything that we wanted, so it was a very sad start.”
Asked if an extra year of development time would have benefitted Honda, Arai replied: “If we waited another one year maybe there would still be the same issues and the same troubles we have had.
"Most of all now it is that we don’t have enough experience on the track, so it is difficult to fix or find out final solutions quickly. Then you make misjudgements or mistakes, but we learned a lot during the year in 2015 so it was a steep learning curve. Maybe if we had waited one year it would still have been the same.”
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