The 2017 F1 season kicked off last week in Barcelona for the customary test laps. While teams like Williams and Mercedes were off to a decent start, the Honda F1 team's preseason was marred with unexplained mechanical issues. Honda said that the problems stem from a leak on the cars' oil system
Honda F1 driver and World Champion Fernando Alonso was forced to sideline his first day of test laps after a fault on his car's oil system. Honda's second driver, Stoffel Vandoorne, also had a mediocre second day after his car run into a mechanical issue, something that Honda has yet to find the root cause of.
— Honda Racing F1 (@HondaRacingF1) March 3, 2017
In an appearance on Spanish television station Movistar, Honda's F1 engine chief Yusuke Hasegawa said, "The first day we had an oil system issue. Normally the oil tank has to manage the oil level but this year we had some bad oil management so that is why we need to modify the oil tank."
According to Planet F1, Hasegawa later confirmed that the team has yet to conclude what caused the mechanical issue that hampered Vandoorne's run during the second day of test laps. He said that the problem is "more fundamental and more serious."
Because of this unknown mechanical problem, the Honda F1 team is not sure what engine specification will be used during the final pre-season tests. The engine problem that marred the second day of Honda's test lap forced the team to use at least five engines over the course of four days.
The Honda F1 team's plan is to use a new engine specification for the first race of the season which will begin in Australia on March 24. Despite these problems, Hasegawa is still optimistic that the team will be able to improve its last year's sixth place finish, according to BBC.