Honda's new Formula 1 engine is set to be fired up for the first time in the autumn of this year, AUTOSPORT can reveal.
The Japanese manufacturer announced it will return to grand prix racing after an absence of six seasons as engine supplier to McLaren in 2015.
Honda revealed yesterday that it has established a European base for the engine project in Milton Keynes but design work on the engine is being undertaken in Tochigi in Japan.
Yasuhisa Arai, who has been appointed Honda's chief officer of motorsports to head up the F1 project, confirmed that while the internal combustion element of the power unit will be fired up soon, the full engine complete with energy recovery systems will not be trialled until next year.
"We are scheduled to have a fire-up around autumn," Arai told AUTOSPORT.
"Of course, in addition to the engine unit, we are going to have components like the ERS and the battery, so in order for us to test it as a system it is probably going to take another year or so."
Arai added that Honda is still very much in the early stages of research and development work on the new engine.
Although the manufacturer is understood to have been conducting preliminary research into F1's new engine rules for some time, it is only in recent months that the project has been given the green light.
"It is still at the initial stage," said Arai.
"We made the announcement in the middle of May that Honda has decided to come back to F1 and we have just started the design work.
"We are now making the decisions for some of the details, so we have just started to embark on this.
"It is going to involve lots of technical elements, so it's not just talking about the engine. We have to make sure that the engine works with the engine management.
"To be a good power unit, we have to make sure that all parts work together."
Autosport has produced a standalone special magazine to celebrate our 70th birthday. All current print subscribers will receive a copy for free. To order your copy of the 196-page Autosport 70th Anniversary issue, please go to: autosport.com/autosport70th