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F1 Honda upgrade depends on FIA green light

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F1 Honda upgrade depends on FIA green light
Honda is waiting only on the FIA to deploy more of its in-season engine development ‘tokens’.

That is the claim of Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, as the pressure on McLaren’s struggling engine partner increases.

Asked if he thinks Honda is taking the right approach on its return to formula one, frustrated team driver Jenson Button answered: “Maybe you should ask them.

“Personally, I believe in them,” the Briton, who also raced with Honda power in the carmaker’s earlier works team project, told the French magazine Auto Hebdo.

“Whenever we have a problem, we always manage to solve it. The only thing is that the more problems we solve, the more we find,” Button added.

But the 35-year-old has argued that Honda must now put its firm focus on performance rather than reliability, as the 2016 season will also be lost if the ‘power unit’ does not start to catch up.

Indeed, the Spanish sports daily Marca now quotes Honda’s Yasuhisa Arai as saying: “Reliability is something we always look for, but the priority now is performance.”

And so, McLaren-Honda is looking ahead to Friday’s meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Mexico.

It is there that the governing body should rubber-stamp the Strategy Group’s decision to give Honda an extra ‘power unit’ allocation for this year without penalty.

With the green light, a heavily token-upgraded step would therefore be deployed in Hungary later this month.

It could take some of the pressure off not only Arai’s shoulders, but also those of the McLaren team boss Eric Boullier.

Asked if he still believes in the Frenchman, Button told Auto Hebdo: “I can say that Eric is highly respected by the team.

“This is a difficult period, but everyone is keeping the faith. It is extremely important to keep everyone’s motivation up in a difficult period, and Eric is doing a lot for the team,” he added.

As for his own future, Button acknowledges that it is clouded but insists he also continues to believe in McLaren-Honda.

“Do you think I would still be here if I didn’t?” the Briton asked.

“I’m thinking about the present, not the future and definitely not what I will be doing in 10 years. I’m completely immersed in my work.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow so it’s pointless to speculate about it. We need to live in the present and, for us, try to change things — and as soon as possible,” said Button. (GMM)

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