Honda motorsport head Yusuke Hasegawa would like to find a second team to partner with in Formula One to better develop its power unit, but he told Autosport that no one was interested. Honda’s F1 engine has just sucked too much, too often.
Hasegawa explained that adding a second F1 team running Honda power units would be a massive help to Autosport. He argued that it would be expensive but technically rewarding with more chances to run their engines.
Problem is, Honda’s power unit has been an anchor weight compared to the other engines on the grid and nobody wants to have to use it.
Honda was mentioned as a possible last resort partner for Red Bull last season when the team was feuding with Renault over the poor performance of that power unit. However, with their Tag Heuer-branded Renault power units working better this year, Red Bull doesn’t have much of a reason to go anywhere.
So there Honda sits, with only one team (McLaren) helping them shake down their mediocre power unit.
While Hasegawa confirmed to Autosport that the Honda power unit will receive several upgrades in the next couple races, some, such as Motor Sport, believe that Honda’s unique “size zero” turbo design may simply be obsolete:
Given how quickly energy transfer efficiencies are improving in the F1 hybrid era, however, it could be that the size zero concept is already forming a long-term limitation to Honda’s power unit. The concept might already be obsolete – and becoming more so all the time as those efficiencies improve further!
Other manufacturers, such as Mercedes, run larger turbos where the compressor sits outside the V of the engine, Motor Sport explains, which allows them to recover and convert more energy for the hybrid systems. Honda uses a smaller turbo and fits the turbine and compressor fit within the engine’s V, which makes a small and aerodynamically efficient package for the whole car, but also limits the amount of energy the turbo can convert back into usable hybrid power.
Size zero is also hard to cool and it faces regulatory restrictions for future development. The smaller size turbo has to spin faster to make the power of a larger turbo, but regulations limit turbos to 125,000 rpm, and the other manufacturers’ larger turbos already run between 95,000 and 100,000 rpm.
More power is winning the race over aerodynamics week in and week out, so is a complete re-do on the way? Hasegawa says they’ll know by August how much they’ll be changing for 2017:
So far we are researching many possibilities.
Drastic change or a continuous one, we haven’t decided yet which direction we will go. We are researching that.
Maybe in August we will have to decide. McLaren has to decide the package.
So ultimately Honda needs a second team to help it develop an engine that doesn’t suck. But Honda’s engine is so bad that no second team wants to join in to help powertrain development. Good luck with that.