Thursday, 20 April 2017

F1: Honda Needs To Abandon Reliability, Push For Performance


F1 must be a pretty painful experience for Honda right now. After a pretty disastrous couple years under the 2014 engine formula the company must have been hoping the new 2017 rules for F1's turbo hybrids would put them back in the game.

That has proved to be far from the case, With McLaren battling customer engine powered teams like Haas, Sauber and Toro Rosso in the lower midfield.

Given that its last foray was similarly disastrous - between 2000 and 2008 it achieved a single Grand Prix victory - a fortuitous result in Hungary in 2006 in a weather affected race - this shouldn't be a surprise.

Honda withdrew from F1 at the end of 2008, humbled. Its works effort had achieved one victory in nine seasons. The scale of that failure illustrated by the efforts of private Honda tuner Mugen, who took four race wins in the preceding nine years with its Honda based units.

In fact a golden period between 1986 and 1991 aside (collecting six constructor's and five driver's World Championships) Honda has been a perennial struggler.

Honda has clearly experienced major issues so far this season and it is rapidly losing the faith of its McLaren partner. That of lead driver Fernando Alonso is long gone.

Which leaves only one option for Honda, throw caution to the wind, build for performance and take the pain (and penalties) of repeated engine failures. Reliably running around battling for the last point is good for nobody. On the other hand a short show of blistering pace would be good for everyone's morale, even if it were to come to a premature and fiery end.

The exception being Monaco of course, where a horsepower deficit is far less important than the rest of the Grand Prix calendar. And where the guile and experience of Jensen Button might be sufficient to bring home a good result.

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