Honda F1 engine made great progress in 2016 - Renault

Honda did "a great job" with the progress it made during its second season back in Formula 1, according to Renault chief technical officer Bob Bell

The Japanese manufacturer's power unit was off the pace in its first year back in F1 in 2015, but it made strides during its second campaign.

Honda remains fourth in the engine pecking order, behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault, but Bell praised the job done to close the gap and said it was positive for F1.

"Honda's progress has been very impressive," Bell told Autosport. "They've done a great job and it's great to see them up there.

"'It's really important to Formula 1 that all the power unit suppliers are there or thereabouts because for the road car manufacturers, the power unit is probably dearer to their heart than the chassis.

"It's important manufacturers stay in Formula 1 and for that to happen they need to feel that their power units are absolutely up there and competitive."

Honda has heavily revised its power unit for 2017, adopting packaging that is believed to be preferred by the class-leading Mercedes engine.

Honda chief Yusuke Hasegawa admitted the manufacturer still "needs to gain much more" to catch its rivals, but when asked if that gap could be bridged this winter, he told Autosport: "I believe so.

"From an engine power point of view, we have some target numbers, which are estimated from Mercedes and Ferrari.

"Our target is to catch them up in 2017, reach the same level as now, but it's difficult to know how much they will gain."

When asked if Honda was also working on improving its qualifying engine modes - an area Mercedes has excelled in during the last three years, Hasegawa said: "Maybe. Once we can get very good engine performance, the next concern is reliability.

"Currently, we have to limit sometimes the best performance in qualifying.

"Until we get the best performance, which is what Mercedes is doing, I don't know how much limitation we will have."

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