Honda worried about its Australian GP engine spec after test issues

Honda has admitted it now has worries about the specification of engine McLaren can run at the Australian Grand Prix, following its troubled first pre-season Formula 1 test

Honda worried about its Australian GP engine spec after test issues

The Japanese manufacturer had a tough time at Barcelona this week, suffering an issue with its oil tank design on the first day but then, more seriously, having a failure on day two.

To further compound Honda's problems, the engine did not appear to deliver the performance step hoped for.

There were even suggestions that, for reliability reasons, it was having to run in a state that produced less power than it had in 2016.

BEN ANDERSON: How much trouble is McLaren-Honda in?

Honda's F1 engine chief Yusuke Hasegawa insists that the oil tank redesign will not be a big job, but the fact the day two failure was a mystery was a proper concern.

"The first day we had an oil system issue," Hasegawa told Spanish TV station Movistar.

"Normally the oil tank has to manage the oil level but this year we had some bad oil management so that is why we need to modify the oil tank system.

"The second day we had a mechanical issue and still we don't know the root cause of the problem.

"This is more fundamental and more serious I think."

When asked if the problems could compromise Honda's start to the F1 season, Hasegawa said: "Oil tank, definitely not. The mechanical issue, I don't know, I'm yet to be confident about that, but of course I worry about that."

Honda is due to introduce its Melbourne-specification engine at the second Barcelona test next week, but its plan could be impacted by the results of the investigation into the failure.

The faulty power unit was removed from the car on Tuesday and flown immediately back to Japan, where thorough analysis is taking place but with no answer found as yet.

Should the work reveal a flaw in the engine design, it could impact on what Honda brings to the opening races.

Asked if the new engine that will run next week will be Melbourne-spec, Hasegawa said: "Yes. It is supposed to be, but we had a mechanical issue [so] currently I am discussing with Sakura members and Japanese members about next week's engine."

Given the high pre-season hopes that Honda could get closer to Mercedes this season, the troubled start to testing has been a blow to McLaren - and in particular Fernando Alonso.

While publicly both sides are keeping a brave face on matters, relations between Honda and McLaren behind the scenes are believed to be tense.

Hasegawa even hinted himself about the need for McLaren and Honda to "argue" in the situation they have found themselves in.

"In the tests, of course, this is a stage where we need to overcome a lot of trouble," he explained.

"So sometimes we need to argue or we need to have constructive discussion, but I think we are doing a very good job and we have a very good relationship."

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