Honda has a separate team of people working on the development of its 2017 Formula 1 engine, according to its chief Yusuke Hasegawa.
The Japanese manufacturer has made progress this year in its bid to close the gap to Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault but it still remains off the back of the pack.
In tandem with this year’s development, Honda has had a bespoke team working on 2017 from the moment it became clear there would be changes to the technical regulations, which includes the end of the development token system.
“We have a completely separate team from the start of this year concentrating on next year’s engine,” said Hasegawa.
“We still have this year’s team and of course we are exchanging information with each other.
“Then the resource is moving to next year’s engine team.”
While the team working on 2017 has gradually grown, there are still staff working on this year’s engine, with a further update expected to be introduced later this year.
Autosport understands Honda is aiming to introduce this at its home race in Japan or the following one in Austin as that works with its cycle of engines – but it depends on how quickly it can prove its performance and reliability.
“We have three tokens left, still seven races and one more engine needed,” said Hasegawa.
“We have one more chance to introduce one more spec up.
“So far we plan to introduce it for [combustion engine] power.”
Honda spent seven tokens on an update for the Belgian Grand Prix but while Hasegawa said it is “closing the gap” to Renault and Ferrari, he conceded it was “not enough to catch” them.
When asked when he expected Honda to be able to bridge the gap, Hasegawa said: “Next year.
“We are aiming to catch up them but still we need more hard work.”