Fernando Alonso has no doubt Honda will produce a competitive power unit next year, saying the big question is about how McLaren will adapt to Formula One's new regulations.
Honda struggled for reliability and performance on its return to the sport last year, but has corrected the main weaknesses of the 2015 power unit this year. The Japanese manufacturer is preparing for another step in 2017 and Alonso is confident the Honda engine will not be McLaren's Achilles heel next season.
"After struggling a lot last year we found ourselves in a position that we are enjoying and competing with the midfield cars," he said. "Next year we want to do the final step and fighting for much more than this. I think we have a great opportunity with the new rules, because everything will mix. If we are able to produce a quick car from race one we have a chance to do well.
"On the engine side I think we learn a lot this year, much more than last year because last year it was about making the power unit survive a weekend -- we had to make it last until the chequered flag. It was down on power, down on batteries, down on reliability, down on everything, so it was difficult to learn because it was just to make it run. This year I think we are fine-tuning the engine a lot more so I think the knowledge this year will pay off even more next year with the power unit.
"I'm quite confident on that so the big question mark is the new rules, the new aerodynamics and on that I am also confident because McLaren is a big team with a lot of resources, with a lot of possibilities so I think it's looking good for next year and I'm looking forward."
New aerodynamic regulations are set to change the look and lap time of Formula One next year, with F1's rule makers hoping to make the cars five seconds per lap faster. All teams have increasingly prioritised 2017 development as the current season has progressed, but despite Alonso's optimism, McLaren racing director Eric Boullier says it is impossible to know how his team's 2017 car is progressing compared to its rivals.
"I can't update you much because I don't want any information in the media!" Boullier said. "And I have no reference. You hear many stories in the paddock that the regulations have been changed to introduce more downforce and performance, and I think every team has found much more performance than the current cars.
"But we have no reference yet, so we are on our own and we will see in February [testing] where we are compared with the others."