Honda set to continue with ‘different’ F1 power unit design


The new 2016 engine regulations awaiting ratification have two marked changes to their predecessors. Firstly, in season development will again be allowed probably with repeated homologation dates for each upgrade each F1 manufacturer brings. Secondly, certain areas of the power unit which were due to be locked down from redesign until 2020 have been opened up.

This latter regulation clearly allows Renault and Honda the chance to examine any fundamental design flaws with their power units and make the appropriate changes. Renault are yet to announce their participation in Formula One in 2016, and recent comments from Cyril Abiteboul have heightened the fear a Renault could leave F1 in 2016.

Honda have now revealed, that despite the new design freedoms, they are determined to continue with their design and concept for a V6 Turbo hybrid engine. The Japanese manufacturer has refused to sign up power unit engineers from Mercedes or Ferrari, believing the path it is taking will be a winning one in the end.

“It can be a weakness or it can be the winning formula,” says Fernando Alonso. “I choose to believe this is the winning formula. If you want to copy what Mercedes do, you can be close to Mercedes but you cannot ever be better than Mercedes.

“Being there in another culture, with another discipline and another ethic of work has maybe been difficult this year because some of the process has been slower than what it could be, but I think some of the ideas we have are very unique in the paddock.

“If we make them work, it will be difficult for anyone else to copy.”

This may cause McLaren fans some discomfort and concern that they are set for another year of two score engines and associated penalties together with a lack of track time to even test out properly new components.

McLaren themselves started the year with certain design philosophies which were radically different from others. Yet there has been a compromise and the ‘zero size’ aerodynamic philosophy has seen some modification over the back end of the season. McLaren maintain this is the way to go and the engine was the problematic component, not the aero design.

Alonso is highly bullish over next year’s opportunities. “The car is responding well, aerodynamically we have the direction to go in, we are improving and I see when I am on the track how we attack the corners and how fast we are in the corners. So I am not afraid that next year’s car will not be at the top level.”

Honda’s ideas may be difficult to copy, but will they prove to finally work?

15 responses to “Honda set to continue with ‘different’ F1 power unit design

  1. My only worry is that by the time these ‘innovative ideas’ start to work there’ll be the time to start with new regs and we’ll back to zero.

  2. I think the most interesting part is if Renault will continue in F1? I think they realise now they have designed a lemon and will never catch Ferrai let alone Mercedes. A whole year of development and they made no HP gains and one could argue they actually went backwards looking at the performance of Ricciardo’s car last race. If they complete the Lotus take over i think it’s safe to assume they will not have a chassis as good as the RBR offering, therefore they will be even worse off than where lotus is now even with a superior merc PU. I can’t see how this is good for the Renault brand.

    • I kinda like to think Renault have a better engine in progress / almost ready to go but are not sharing it with red bull…. with the recent ‘update’ a necessity to unlock more power from the PU as a whole once further components are added and maybe to tick some contractual boxes with RB.

    • I read that the ‘upgrade’ Ricciardo ran was actually only 7 tokens not the 11 that was reported initially. I believe the other 4 tokens related to the turbo. Thus he only had half the upgrade!!! Why he didn’t have the turbo???? Seems silly if it was Red Bulls decision as they didn’t have many more places to be at the back of the grid. If it was Renaults decision then you would hope the turbo is the big gain component Renault need to be competitive.
      Can’t wait for 2016, then again if the BBC drop live coverage I doubt I will watch just the ‘highlights’.

      • It’s either due to Renault wanting some data from the upgraded ICE with the old Turbo set up so they can compare and contrast it with the new turbo set up or they don’t want Red Bull getting it’s mitts on the full upgrade.
        Or it might be that the full upgrade has different packaging requirements and we all know how Mr Newey is about compromising his aero designs….

      • The upgrade included a revised exhaust, required to feed the new turbo. The new exhaust did not fit into the RBR bodywork, as inferred above. Not surprisingly the engine did not perform as expected!

      • Yeah i did read that article. I think Cyril Abiteboul would have mentioned this when he spoke to the press if indeed it was only a partial update. Obviously that would be a legitimate excuse/reason why they saw no gains and also wouldn’t have damaged the renault brand as much. Than again they could be playing it close to their chest. Guess we will find out round 1 next season.

  3. I read elsewhere that Honda were looking to engage some external consultants breaking with the long standing ‘we do it in house’ philosophy?
    The concept of trying some different rather than trying to simply copy Mercedes is grand in theory, but only if the something different can actually lead to a better result. We’ll know once testing starts where everyone is at, the one bright spot hopefully is that the (modest?) relaxation on in season development will at least allow for those who are behind to be able to make some inroads during the season rather than be forced to endure a(nother) year of pointless misery. Here’s hoping anyway.

  4. Honda will no doubt improve for next year… in the energy recovering phase, and it maybe well bring McLaren into the top 4 because of what seems to be their great aero chassis that can be seen this year. but they will not be challenging Mercedes or Ferrari, and it is not their fault, it is the fault of the current formula. Next year we will see the top 4 teams of f1, McLaren, Ferrari, Redbull and Mercedes in the top 4, but the order will again be dictated by Power unit. so Merc, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren. I also foresee McLaren rising to the top 4 as “acceptable”, so the political line by both McLaren and the team drivers will be that they have made a massive improvement, where as they should already be top 4, not for the engine. 2017 will only see any real “chance” of change for the lead in f1, with the current engine formula in place, do not bet on it!
    F1 is losing fans left right and centre. I watched every race since 1994, but have sat out 3 of the last 6 races, the first one I felt guilty being a long time f1 fan, but it came to a point that this just doesn’t feel like F1 anymore, the sport has gone to SHIT. MotoGP and WEC this year have made a mockery of F1 as the highest level of motorsport, and Indycar was much more entertaining as the highest level of open-wheel motorsport.

  5. This is confusing

    –The new 2016 engine regulations awaiting ratification have two marked changes to their predecessors. Firstly, in season development will again be allowed probably with repeated homologation dates for each upgrade each F1 manufacturer brings. Secondly, certain areas of the power unit which were due to be locked down from redesign until 2020 have been opened up.–

    Probably with repeated holologation dates for each upgrade?? is this just a guess?? If its just a guess (and the ‘probably’ points that way) then there are not 2 marked changes, only the areas of token use are different, in season development is most likely to follow the same path as 2015.

    If you think carefully bout it then it will make no sense at all to homologate each upgrade as it would force every manfacturers driver to take a new upgrade everytime, racking up penalties for some and increasing the costs all round.

    Unless TJ13 has been reliably informed of this by a real FIA insider ofcourse

  6. Haven’t they already ditched the log exhaust manifold design – major contributor to a low engine frontal area? Or is it back in the works behind the scenes?? Presumably they are persisting with the scroll compressor.

    The only thing I find baffling is how Honda could be so poorly performing when they had ages to bench test their engine on simulated F1 tracks and showed videos of this. Presumably they had a long lead time to work behind closed doors.

    • It is the ERS interactions with the ICE that they keep getting wrong IMHO. You need a full-on chassis dyno to simulate properly the loads the car is going to experience. Engine dyno’s alone won’t cut it. I suspect Honda has built a fine ICE but their turbo and ERS strategy is killing them.

      • Surely Honda has some knowledge of ERS. They have been making road-going hybrids for years. I thought it was the ICE that was down on power. But as you say, maybe its the turbo/MGU-H they are struggling with. But still I presume someone made a really fundamental error in setting the design performance parameters for the PU up front, so the pre-launch development work and bench testing was aiming at a completely wrong target.

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