Oct.15 (GMM/Inautonews.com) McLaren-Honda is suddenly sounding much more confident about the future.

Until now, while insisting that the fabled Anglo-Japanese combination will eventually bear fruit, there has been little sign of progress in 2015.

But that may all have changed at Sochi last weekend, where Fernando Alonso was at the controls of a new Honda engine specification.

Observers said the power unit had a notably different engine note, but the team decided to shelve it after practice so that Alonso could use it to best effect next weekend at Austin without the handicap of grid penalties.

Team boss Eric Boullier is quoted by Spain’s El Mundo Deportivo: “This update performed better than expected.

“It was a positive test — above even what we expected,” he repeated. “So if we did not use it in the race it was only because we believed that the design of the (Sochi) circuit did not suit our package.”

Honda’s Yasuhisa Arai agreed: “It (the new engine) responded better than expected, although the total performance is still not high enough.”

Indeed, Jenson Button said the biggest problem with the current Honda layout is “energy recovery. The ERS,” he explained.

“We run out of power on the straights long before we get to the end of them.”

The report also said Honda, and F1’s other engine manufacturers, will be turning their minds to the new rules for 2016 mandating separate exhaust pipes for ‘wastegate’ gases next year, with the intention of ramping up the volume.

But El Mundo Deportivo said teams will be considering whether the additional one or two exhausts can be exploited for an aerodynamic benefit through the diffuser — otherwise known as exhaust ‘blowing’.