Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says the company have been hugely impressed by Honda, as thye have been steadily improving their engines throughout 2018 with junior team Toro Rosso.
With McLaren choosing to drop Honda at the end of 2017 after three consecutive seasons of poor reliability and power, Red Bull swooped in to sign up their junior team Toro Rosso to the Japanese marque. While results haven’t been stellar overall, there have been some strong highlights: Pierre Gasly finished P4 in Bahrain, while both he and teammate Brendon Hartley have scored several points finishes.
Suzuka saw Toro Rosso spring a surprise by getting both cars into Q3 and eventual grid positions of P6 & P7 with their drivers and, while the race didn’t work out well as they slipped out of the points, there’s rumours in the paddock that the Honda engine is now more powerful than the Renault as the latest iteration of the Honda PU is supposedly worth half a second of laptime.
Speaking at Suzuka, Christian Horner said Red Bull are very impressed as they gear up to swap from Renault to Honda power at the end of this season: “We’ve been very impressed with the progress that Honda have been making during the course of this year.
“Obviously, we’re now working closely [with Honda] regarding… incorporating the engine into the RB15 for next year. I have to say the communication has been excellent between both companies. We’re hugely impressed by the effort, commitment, desire, determination to succeed that there is in Honda.”
Masashi Yamamoto from Honda says that recent upgrades to the engine have worked out, after some initial issues with calibration on the new spec engine: “Regarding this season, we were not as quick in the development as we would have wanted to. However, recently, everything has been much better, especially regarding the combustion chamber. We have upgraded it, and it’s finally complete, and very successfully complete. Regarding Russia, and the problems we had with the other engine, it had regard to the calibrations but we have fixed it since Russia, and within this one week before the race in Suzuka, we have fixed that issue.”
With the realities of providing a demanding front running team like Red Bull Racing starting to set in, Yamamoto-san admitted to feeling pressure, but that it was a good pressure: “We are very pleased to also work with another top team. We believe Red Bull is a top team in Formula One. We – me and Christian – we have had great communication throughout the year, and obviously there is pressure, however this pressure, we turn it into good energy, and this good energy will bring us fantastic and fabulous results. Of course, with Team Toro Rosso, Team Red Bull on both sides, pressure into great energy, great results for 2019.”