Mercedes AMG engine boss Andy Cowell says the gains showed by Ferrari between 2014 and 2015 are indicative of what can be potentially achieved by Honda and Renault in 2016 as he predicted 'big, big gains' for their rivals.
The manufacturer has dominated F1 since the change to regulation of V6 Hybrid power units, winning 32 of the last 38 races, though it came across a robust rival in Ferrari last season as it made a significant step up In engine performance.
It is an improvement that Cowell believes shows what can be achieved by Renault, which struggled to develop its power unit in 2015, and especially Honda, which suffered a torrid return to action last year with McLaren as continuous problems making its 'compact packaging' work would leave it compromised in terms of power.
However, Mercedes – which also had the upper hand through its customer teams Williams, Force India and Lotus in 2015 -, believes Honda and McLaren are especially capable of turning their fortunes around quickly.
“If we look at what Ferrari has done over the last 12 months, it's remarkable," Cowell is quoted as saying by ESPN
. "Their improvements have been a huge credit to their reshuffle and their enthusiasm.
"Everybody here [in Brixworth] is going 'I wonder how we're going to do [in 2016]?' Nobody here is assuming we are going to win, everybody here is assuming that we're going to get beaten by Ferrari, and Honda are a big threat.
"Honda have come in quickly and they are learning in front of the public but they're hugely determined and partnered with McLaren who are hugely determined. We know exactly how McLaren work in terms of a data-driven approach, so they are going to make some big, big gains.
"Renault's determination as they've shown with becoming a lot more involved now in Formula One, instead of just being a power unit provider, there has been a team restructuring. There are going to be some great stories to talk about."