Honda F1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa says the Japanese manufacturer is finally making progress with its power unit, and will be stronger in 2018.
The jury is still out as to whether McLaren and Honda will continue their partnership next season, but current signs appear to point to an inevitable split.
On the back of McLaren-Honda scoring its first points this season, thanks to Fernando Alonso's ninth place finish in Baku, signs of improvement have emerged.
With not much to lose given it's already heavy penalty schedule, Honda tested in Azerbaijan a long-awaited 'spec 3' engine, said to be worth an extra 30bhp.
The unit will likely make its race debut at the Red Bull Ring in Austria next week.
"We thought that in Baku, as we are so far behind and with the circuit characteristics, it would be difficult to score points," Honda chief Yusuke Hawegawa told Speed Week.
"So we used specification 2 and saved the new version for Fernando (Alonso) for Austria," he added.
While the power increase was positive, Hasegawa insisted that the engine still suffered from a deficit in that department compared to its rivals.
"It is in the right direction, although not enough to reach the level of the other engine manufacturers," said Haseagwa.
"But things are getting better at Honda. We will be stronger in 2018."