McLaren-Honda racing director Eric Boullier believes that the development of its rivals power unit will eventually be capped and stagnate in 2017, which in turn should help Honda catch up.

Honda’s home race last weekend in Suzuka was a massive disappointment as expectations for a good result were high given the power unit’s steady performance progress this season.

But Boullier believes that with the lifting next year of restrictions associated with engine development , Honda will have more to gain than Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault.

“The maturity of the Honda project  means it will keep growing up, and this is where the biggest gain will still be found,” Boullier explained to Autosport.

“The engine regulations have one good point about them, and that’s the quantity of fuel you can use, which means you limit the amount of energy you can use at any time.

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“So there is a limit to this power unit development and we’re heading towards a ‘plateau’, which is why there is a little more freedom in the regulations for us to catch up.

“Plus there is the fact Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault started developing their units in 2010; Honda started in 2013, three years later.

“So they are catching up, with much more gain to be found with this maturity, with this development.”

The Frenchman considers the relative relief of engine restrictions will provide a more favourable technical environment for Honda and will accelerate its progress and advancement.

But Boullier is also counting on McLaren’s own progress in the chassis department to handle the introduction of new aerodynamic regulations which could potentially disrupt the current order.

“Having the possibility to freely develop the engine will help us even more, to get to this plateau fast. Right now we’re still on an upward curve.

“I’m confident we will keep catching up. I know much more than you guys what’s going on behind the scenes, and that makes me confident we will carry on catching up.

“Whatever happens next year we will close the gap, although I’m not making any predictions, no numbers, because we don’t know what the others are doing.

“Right now we know exactly where we are compared to the others, and I could tell you next year where we will be more or less if we keep closing.

“But as far as we are concerned we know we will close the gap – definitely.”

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