Honda's bid to hit the ground running when it returns to Formula 1 with McLaren in 2015 will be helped by the the team having a season with Mercedes' new V6 turbo, reckons rival Renault.
It was confirmed last week that Honda will be making an F1 comeback in 2015 after signing a multi-year deal with McLaren. The timing of that move means that McLaren will get to evaluate the new Mercedes turbo next year, opening up the possibility that lessons taken on board will be passed on to Honda.
Although McLaren insists that there is no chance of any of Mercedes' intellectual property being transferred to Honda, rival Renault thinks the transition season still gives enough opportunity for Honda to benefit.
Renault's head of track operation Remi Taffin said: "Even if I am sure that McLaren will be very good at separating things and working with Mercedes, as soon as everything stops you don't forget anything you learned.
"Plus we are competitors, so you will try and get the most out of it [the situation]. The answer is Honda will benefit from McLaren running Mercedes engines in 2014."
Taffin suggests that one likely consequence of McLaren preparing for the Honda switch is that there will likely be a strict lockdown of sensitive information from Mercedes.
"The only thing that you will and should protect is the intellectual property, so they [McLaren] will not have access to drawings, or to any bit of software. You come to a point where it is difficult for a transition like this one. Should I give them this software – or should I keep the box as black as I can? This is the difficult thing.
"Simply speaking, you could say: 'this year we will give you the power unit, here you go guys, and you deal with it'. They [Honda] will learn from it, but the question is how much you will let them learn from it."
Taffin (LEFT) does not believe, however, that Honda will benefit over engine rivals by sitting out the 2014 season to see how the new regulations play out.
"There will be an advantage because they [Honda] will see what is going on. They will be able to look at what we have been doing, and also look at the technology we are using, or look at the employees we have been working with. But on the other side we have the advantage of having customers who run F1 cars.
"We will have them to help us to integrate the new power unit and it is not only about what technology you are using, it is how you are going to integrate the new technology into the chassis and how you make the car fast. I would imagine on this side we will have an advantage.
"You are on a better position if you are racing in 2014, but it is not like the one coming in 2015 is having a bad year."