As McLaren and Alonso embrace Renault euphorically, Honda is also turning the page with a smile.
The Japanese press consulted by "The Confidential" is clear.
"Better than him, there's no one, he's a number 1."
"Tanabe is a true 'racing-man'"
"Tanabe has been in Honda since the 80s and continued in the 2000s", they count from Japan. "When Honda left F1 in 2008, many engineers went to street cars but some went on racing, one of them was Tanabe, it's a real racing-man."
"He's someone very smart, a 100% bet"
Tanabe will rely on a new chief of operations, Yasuaki Asaki, who will work from Sakura to coordinate what they already draw as an internal "revolution". "Tanabe's approach is going to be in the factory's work, because they need someone capable of accelerating all processes."
"At the end of the races, Hasegawa always came back to the factory in Sakura, he was taking everything, on and off the track, it was very inefficient, and Honda understood that the leadership had to be separated." This system prevented the factory from solving in a coordinated way all engine problems.
The transition was orchestrated for a long time and there could even be a certain transfer of powers. In October, Tanabe went to the US GP and did not leave Hasegawa, who has a good relationship with him. "They're friends, if there had not been an agreement between Hasegawa and Honda, Tanabe would not have accepted the post, they have a very Japanese relationship like big brother and little brother."
"Tanabe is very, very smart," they insist on Japan. "In Sakura they see him as a number 1. If Honda has taken him from the United States for F1, it is a 100% bet.
At the moment, Tanabe already seems to be clear about his approach. "Now Honda is going to focus on seeing how he takes advantage of the talent of his production department for F1, there are workers who are already there and who can finish in the races."
"There are 1000 people working in Sakura, only 300 in F1, but there are different experiences and talents, so far, Honda saw F1 as an advertising tool, but instead as a money-making machine, until 2017, They believed that transferring resources from street cars to Formula 1 meant leaving production aside, and therefore forgetting what was important.The balance was very uneven.But Honda has realized that its image in Europe is very important, and therefore they must balance it. " That's why 2018 really can mark a new start for Honda in F1.
Also, in fact, to simplify objectives. In Honda they already rule out that its president -Takahiro Hachigo- is imminent in political matters like Sergio Marchionne. "It's a brand that does not deal with politics, it goes a bit against the samurai spirit, they always fight through engineering."
But without almost regulatory changes, the short time and all the errors with McLaren, why be optimistic before 2018? "The base of the engine is good", "One of the big problems with McLaren was the vibrations: it happened because they did not connect the turbo and the MGU-H at high speeds, the solution is on the way and they have been working it for months".
"Honda improved some three tenths between March and summer, and then three more between summer and autumn," they reveal satisfied. If the MGU-H works and they maintain a good evolution, could they regret McLaren and Alonso? "It is difficult that they will soon reach Mercedes," they reiterate in Japan. "But they can get to Renault."
"McLaren knew it ... but it did not say it"
The history with McLaren is past water since September. Since October, Honda has been in continuous contact with Toro Rosso and even set this December as the limit to test the 2018 engine with the built-in gearbox.
At the end of the year, in the Brazilian GP, something happened behind the scenes.
"Friday, day of the free, the leaf of the 'speed-trap' (maximum top speeds) is never published, but Honda has access to it, Alonso marked that day 331.6 km / h, in 11th place. in classification, and without being able to change the adjustment of the engine, he made 311.8 km / h (the last), all blamed Honda, Hasegawa said at a press conference that it was because of the engine, but outside of the microphone he told something different. in that it was also due to the 'drag' effect (air resistance) generated by the car through the configuration that had been adjusted that day, because the speed-trap does not measure both the pure power, also the effect generated by the car on the straights. "
So, what if it was not all black and white? "It's something that Mclaren already knew, but he did not say it in public," they say. In Honda they continue to take the blame in the first person, but point-as did the former mechanic Tetsuo Tsugawa, that the 2017 McLaren had certain points that could harm the speed on the straight. For example, that rear spoiler more voluminous and wider compared to other cars.
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