Honda has described the data it recorded in Japan on its new upgraded engine as "encouraging". The Japanese manufacturer runs this weekend with a fresh upgrade which it believes will deliver up to half a second per lap in performance.
The upgrade marks the first that Honda has fitted to the back of the Toro Rosso since the Canadian Grand Prix earlier this year. In the second practice session on Friday, Brendon Hartley managed to finish inside the top ten, stating that it could be a positive weekend ahead for the team.
"I had a really enjoyable first day in Suzuka," said the Kiwi. "I spent the first couple of runs in FP1 getting up to speed with the track and I really like it around here.
"We made a few changes during the session that was clearly in the right direction, and we made a good step to get the car more in line with how I like it for FP2. The pace looks quite competitive as I finished the session in P10, so it's a positive feeling heading into tomorrow."
While Hartley had a productive day, his teammate Pierre Gasly was reprimanded after the opening session for almost causing a collision with Lewis Hamilton. He then lost a lot of track time for the second session as his mechanics had to fix a fuel cell issue.
"After taking our drivers to visit several Honda facilities over the past three days, where they received a warm welcome, it's good to be on track for our home race," said Honda F1 Technical Director Toyoharu Tanabe.
"The latest version of our PU, which we first used on Friday in Sochi, has produced encouraging data today. It's a big improvement and validates the tuning work we carried out on this new PU since Russia. Unfortunately, Pierre lost some track time in FP2 with a fuel system issue, but at this point in the weekend, it's not too critical."