Honda are planning to use their upgraded engine at this weekend’s Austrian GP giving McLaren hope of putting in a more competitive performance.
The engine upgrade was initially expected to be ready for the Canadian GP but it was delayed by more than a month. However, the Japanese manufacturer is now ready to introduce the Spec Three to Fernando Alonso’s and Stoffel Vandoorne’s cars having completed final checks at their factory.
Alonso tried the new engine in a practice session in Azerbaijan and Honda reported lap-time gains of around 0.3 seconds on the Baku circuit.
Honda F1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa said, “At the previous round in Azerbaijan, we were able to bank our first points of the year and I think it brought some brightness into our team. We also tested the updated PU [power unit], the Spec Three, with Fernando on Friday and we were able to confirm some progress in terms of the power output. We have proceeded with the mapping back at the factory utilising the data we collected, and we are going to bring the Spec Three for both drivers this weekend.”
However, Hasegawa did warn that the altitude of the Red Bull Ring, 2,297ft above sea level, will pose an extra challenge for the turbocharger and energy deployment efficiency.
On the other hand, McLaren had one of their better weekends last year in Austria when Jenson Button qualified third in drying conditions before finishing sixth in the dry race.
Alonso finally manged to earn the team some points in the Constructors’ Championship at the Azerbaijan GP and is said to be optimistic that the team can score some more points and put in a good performance over the weekend.