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Honda finally at pre-season performance target

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Honda has only just reached the level of engine performance it was hoping to see from the start of 2017 pre-season testing, according to F1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa.

McLaren and Honda's relationship has come under serious strain this year after the Japanese manufacturer delivered a third successive uncompetitive and unreliable power unit. The team currently lies ninth in the constructors' championship, narrowly above a Sauber outfit running a year-old Ferrari engine.

Recent Honda upgrades have shown signs of progress and Fernando Alonso was able to claim fastest lap on route to finishing sixth in Hungary, while also performing well at the more power-sensitive Silverstone circuit for the British Grand Prix. Hasegawa is disappointed Honda has only reached this level after 11 rounds of the 20-race calendar.

"It is difficult for me to say it is satisfying," Hasegawa told Racer. "Maybe the current level of performance is what we had to achieve at the beginning of the season. So for me I'm thinking, 'At last we can achieve the level of performance we should have been at in Barcelona.'

"So it took around five months. From a normal technical development common sense point of view, to catch up that level in five months, we have to be proud of that. However, to match the Formula One calendar, it is too late. So I am half relieved and half very disappointed that we could not achieve this level at the beginning of the season."

Uncertainty still lingers over the future of the McLaren-Honda partnership, though alternate options for the Woking team seem limited to a supply of Renault engines for 2018. Hasegawa says the relationship remains at a good level.

"Actually we are frequently talking, and we still have very strong communication. So we don't need to make any special meetings with them."