Honda think they’ve found the problem, but it’s too little too late

Formula One team McLaren’s engine woes have hampered their performance all season long, but Honda may have found a critical piece of information.

No one wanted McLaren to be in this position. Even their largest rivals are looking over at their garage, crossing their fingers that they’ll get it right this time. The once-fabled team has endured all they can in the McLaren-Honda project that they’ve undertaken with the storied Japanese manufacturer, and key figures such as Zak Brown have stressed that they are at their breaking point.

BREAKING NEWS: McLaren to split with Honda for 2017

2017: 10th(0pts)
2016: 8th(1pts)
The lowest point in McLaren-Honda’s rich history.

Whether the desperate attempts of a PR team to mitigate damage, or the truthful confession of an earnest engineer, Honda’s Formula One Chief Yusuke Hasegawa has come forward in a statement which hints that the beleaguered engine manufacturer’s woes lie within their dyno setup. Where many have taken Honda to be dumbstruck by their own engine, the reality may be that their vital tool for development testing and deployment has been feeding them unhelpful information, as they are unable to create good testing conditions on it:

“We can’t create good conditions on the dyno. We need to create the same conditions from the track on the dyno.

The operational conditions are different so we need to understand why that makes a difference to the reliability.

Last year, we could prove engine reliability on the dyno so we need to understand why now there is some difference from dyno to the circuit running – it’s not easy.
We need to improve the accuracy”

– Yusuke Hasegawa

It’s no secret that Honda have been scrambling ever since the pre-season, but the potential revelation of a problematic dyno setup could be huge. On one hand, should their suspicions prove true, they will take a sizable chunk out of their performance and reliability problem. On the other, it makes one wonder: “Is this the first time they’ve considered this?”

One would think that given how much the dyno is used to simulate on-track performance, Honda would have identified it from the outset and set to tweaking parameters. If this is indeed the first time that the team has considered such a prospect – and if it turns out to be true – Honda is in for a massive blow to their company’s image. To field a continually limping and failing engine is one thing, but to neglect considering incorrect data inputted in the simulation is beyond comprehension.

As it stands – and as it has stood with Honda – there is too little public information to make an informed opinion on the matter. For now, the best we can do is to hope that the nightmare is finally drawing to a close, and that McLaren can begin the long climb back to its former glory.

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