Honda has changed the layout of its engine ahead of the 2017 Formula 1 season in a bid to make performance gains and cut the gap to pace-setter Mercedes.
Honda returned to F1 after seven years away in 2015, rekindling its famed partnership with the British McLaren team.
However, immediate success was hard to come by, with the ‘size zero’ approach taken by Honda to packaging its power unit resulting in a number of reliability issues through the 2015 season.
McLaren ailed to ninth place in the constructors’ championship that year, but made gains through 2016 to end the year sixth overall.
Honda is now looking to make up yet more ground through the 2017 season, as part of an overhaul of the technical regulations in F1.
“The token system that was applied to engine development for the past few seasons has been discontinued,” McLaren technical director Tim Goss explained.
“For 2017, the Honda engine architecture and layout have been altered to serve both for performance and packaging needs.
“The new power unit takes much of the learning from the past two seasons, but has been specifically redesigned for this season.”
Goss also echoed the sentiments of peer James Key of Toro Rosso, saying that the technical changes for the 2017 season are among the biggest in the history of F1.
“Let’s be clear, we’re looking at some huge regulatory changes ahead of the 2017 season,” Goss said.
“We’ve had bigger changes in the past – the change between 1982 and ’83 from ground-effect to flat floors, for example, which had a massive impact on performance.
“But this season’s changes rank as some of the most significant we’ve ever had in the sport.
“That’s likely to change the competition order, because it’s such a big disturbance. Historically, that has changed the order.
“But then what normally happens is that the best, and most well-equipped, teams tend to rise to the top again.”