Canadian GP: Honda buoyed by F1 upgrades, expects McLaren progress

Honda motorsport chief Yasuhisa Arai is confident of "a positive step" for McLaren after using the first of its Formula 1 engine upgrade tokens

Canadian GP: Honda buoyed by F1 upgrades, expects McLaren progress

The FIA confirmed this week Honda had utilised two of its available tokens, and Ferrari three, to make improvements to the power unit.

In Honda's case AUTOSPORT understands the MGU-H was an area of focus, in particular ahead of a run of visits to power circuits, starting with the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix.

There were enough signs from practice in Montreal for Arai to express his confidence, with Fernando Alonso's ninth place in practice one the day's highlight for McLaren.

"This is a very difficult circuit with long straights and hard braking, and the energy deployment is very difficult for us," Arai told AUTOSPORT.

"But after today we've a very good feeling, and we're positive for not only this weekend, but also the next race and the one after that. I'm quite happy.

"At this moment we have achieved our expectation, and hopefully we can go on to achieve our aim of catching the top teams by the end of the season.

"I feel we have taken a positive step for this race. It's an improvement compared to Monaco."

Arai refused to go into detail over which area the tokens had been used on, but it is believed they are partly for power purposes and partly reliability.

As to the deployment of the remaining seven tokens, Arai concedes there are a number of discussions still to take place.

"We don't have a concrete plan," he added.

"It's very difficult to make a decision.

"We've seven tokens remaining and very soon we have to decide which area need those tokens, but we don't have any plan yet."

While Alonso made it into the top 10 in the morning, team-mate Jenson Button was 15th after initially encountering a gearbox issue.

Come a rain-affected second session, albeit with the teams taking to the track at the start with the super-soft compound as they were aware the weather would close in, Alonso and Button were down in 15th and 18th respectively.

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