Honda's chief officer of Motorsport has admitted that their rivals could be a step ahead by the time the Japanese manufacturer returns to Formula 1 in 2015.
Honda announced earlier in the season that they would be supplying McLaren with power units from 2015, a year after the new regulations are implemented in the sport.
"There are both advantages and disadvantages of participating from 2014," Yasuhisa Arai told AUTO magazine.
"Many things will happen during the F1 season, and we are in a fortunate situation to be able to observe what will happen."
"However, as we are only able to observe, we cannot physically be at the track to see the problems. Other teams can improve on their problems and progress as the race goes on."
"How they will progress will be a mystery to us and our engineers must rely on our imaginations."
Arai nonetheless believes that Honda can enjoy a fruitful relationship with McLaren.
"We have had a great history together – 15 wins out of 16 races in 1988. But more important is the mutual respect we have for each other's work ethic and processes"
"We have the same mentality or feel when we pursue victory and that is very important."