Honda top brass admit that taking a watching brief during next year's F1 campaign could put it at a disadvantage when it returns to the track in 2015.

The Japanese marque is due to make a much-heralded return to the top flight with McLaren – with whom it dominated the period between 1988-92 – but will not be ready for competition until 2015, giving rivals Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari a year's head-start when it comes to understanding the new engine and drivetrain technology being adopted by the category next season.

Although Honda is already working on its own version of the new 1.4-litre turbocharged V6 powerplant, it admits that not being able to pit it against the three established manufacturers on track next year will prevent it from learning some of the development tricks it expects the 'big three' to pick up.

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