INCREASING ENGINE POWER: McLaren-Honda is hoping to decrease the power gap to Mercedes and Ferrari. Image: AP / Darko Vojinovic
London - Honda is aiming to push towards Formula 1 'power unit' pacesetters Mercedes and Ferrari in 2017.
Almost certainly the least impressive performer among its engine manufacturer peers for the past two years, it is reported McLaren's works partner has completely redesigned its turbo V6 package for the new season.
Honda's F1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa is quoted by the Spanish sports daily AS: "From the point of view of the power unit, our goal is to reach the numbers of Mercedes and Ferrari. But it is difficult to know how much they will gain as well."
The newspaper, suggesting Honda will come close to the 750kW barrier in 2017, also reached out to Honda for confirmation of a clearly-defined target for the 2017 season, such as the title or merely a podium.
READ: F1 2017 - Ferrari's new engine could exceed 750kW
A Honda spokesperson replied: "We do not have a specific objective and we do not reveal numbers or power and the like.
"Catching up with the rest of the manufacturers is the goal, but we still do not know how much Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault have improved."
Even Jenson Button, the now retired 2016 McLaren-Honda driver, is not sure how to predict the outcome of 2017, to be characterised by the radically different chassis and tyre specifications.
Button is quoted by Italy's Autosprint: "Whether Mercedes can be beaten is a huge question for everyone. The way the rules are, there will be much more aerodynamic drag so a lot of power will be important - and they (Mercedes) seem to have that.
"If anyone can challenge them, it will mean they did a great job in the winter. We all want to see a positive season, as it's important for F1 to be many teams fighting at the top. We absolutely need that after the last three championships."
As for McLaren-Honda, Button said: "The hope is that they have taken a good step forward, but I haven't been very involved in what the team has been doing, so I don't know to what extent."