They may be battling down towards the bottom of the Formula 1 pecking order in 2008 in terms of outright pace, but Honda are leading the way when it comes to development of the new Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) technology.

That is the assertion of the under-performing Japanese outfit's test driver Alex Wurz, who reckons Honda's head-start on its rivals in this crucial area could help it to gain a few tenths of a second next year - even if he acknowledges it won't vault the team 'from the back of the grid to the front'.

"I am 100 per cent convinced of its merits," the experienced Austrian - who has raced for Benetton, McLaren and Williams over the duration of his career in the top flight - insisted in an interview with

"Up to now, we have been the only ones to test KERS on the track in simulated race conditions - but that doesn't necessarily mean we're now on-course for the 2009 title.

"It's not going to take you from the back of the grid to the front. By the same token, not having it on-board isn't going to demote you from the front row to the back either.

"The influence of KERS on the whole package is not enough to create that significant a difference, but we'll rest easier in our beds than many of our opponents."

As to Honda's evident struggles this season - in part a legacy of the fact that the Brackley-based concern is still bearing the scars of the enforced change from Michelin rubber to Bridgestone following the end of the 2006 campaign - Wurz pointed out that it is proof if ever it were needed that grand prix racing is a fiercely-competitive business.

"That's what makes Formula 1 different from any other business," the 34-year-old underlined. "Here, every tiny mistake shows up fortnightly as hundredths of a second on the clock."