Honda has admitted that the removal of Formula 1’s token system has left it considering a radical redesign of its engine for 2017.
The Japanese manufacturer entered F1 with a unique compact engine design last season that was aimed at helping McLaren’s ‘size zero’ aero concept.
However, the push to keep the compressor and turbo within the confines of the V-bank imposed limits on the potential of its energy recovery – which is why Honda expanded the size of those components over the winter.
Although Honda has previously remained committed to the concept – believing the advantages outweigh the downsides – the fact that there will be no limitations on what can changed for next year has prompted a deeper analysis in to the situation.
It is understood that, with the faster cars arriving for 2017, there could now be a bigger advantage in adopting a Mercedes-style approach of fitting the turbo and compressor at either side of the engine.
All options on table
Honda’s F1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa says that with F1’s recent engine agreement that has removed the token limitations has left it in a different situation to how it was 12 months ago.
“Of course for next season we can change anything,” he told Motorsport.com. “We still haven’t decided the exact specification and layout, but it is better to have a more wide open area of design.”
When asked if this could end up with being an all-new engine design, he said: “Yes. Of course. It is possible.”
Hasegawa said after the Spanish Grand Prix that Honda had plenty of upgrade developments in the pipeline to improve its engine – but their introduction would rest tactically on the use of tokens.
It is logical, however, that the upgrades come on board when Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button move on to their next power units, which will most likely be in Canada.
Honda’s fuel and lubricants partner ExxonMobil is already planning new products for Montreal that should also help lift performance there.
The situation of deploying tokens for maximum reward will not be so important next year when Honda will not be limited in the scope of changes that can be made.
And Hasegawa has made it clear that Honda will leave no stone unturned in delivering changes for 2017 that can help lift it closer to Mercedes.
“We would like to do everything to improve our engine,” he said. “We haven't decided yet [what we will do], but everything we need to do we will do.”
When asked what the timeframe was for the decision, Hasegawa said: “Before the end of the season we have to decide the packaging.
"Every team wants to fix the design around September/October, but it is a tough challenge for us.”