Honda's power unit manufacturer rivals in Formula 1 are pleased to see the Japanese squad make vast improvements from last season and feel it is healthier for the sport to have stronger competition.
After a frustrating first year back in F1 in 2015 when a spate of reliability issues and lack of power restrained McLaren to ninth in the world constructors' championship, Honda has demonstrated significant gains to more than triple its points haul this season with four races remaining.
Honda's rivals Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari have all welcomed the improvements made by the Japanese manufacturer to intensify the competition and improve the show aspect of the sport.
“Honda had a huge challenge to come into the sport having not been in it for a few years and to come fresh in with a totally new formula in 2015,” Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe said. “It was always going to be a huge challenge so it's great to see Honda back playing for points and I'm sure we will see more of them in the future.”
“I think it's great for Formula One if all of the power units end up being reasonably close, the so-called convergence band,” Renault boss Bob Bell added. “I think that's good and healthy for the sport and well done to Honda for making such progress so quickly.”
“Clearly, in the races compared to last year Honda has done a big improvement,” Ferrari's Luigi Fraboni concluded. “It was a good job done for them which they will continue pushing.”
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Speaking ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, Honda's chief technical boss Yusuke Hasegawa did thank his rivals for their support but admits it came with a tinge of embarrassment.
“Thank you very much for the very kind social comment here in Japan.” Hasegawa said. “I'm really, really embarrassed. I'm happy to show some progress but it's very clear that we are still behind. Still we need to push more, much harder.”
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Honda has also confirmed it is open to the project of supplying power units for second team on the F1 grid alongside McLaren as it expands its technical hub with a new base in the UK.
It is believed McLaren currently holds a clause with Honda to stay as a sole supplier but negotiations are ongoing for a potential Honda second team in 2018.
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