Red Bull with their unreliable Renault engines managed to win 4 races in 2018. They had a brilliant car and a chassis that might be the best ever seen on the F1 circuit. But the number of times their cars failed to reach the end line due to engine failures made the situation with Renault untenable and Red Bull decided to make a switch.
The switch was to Honda, which raised a bunch of eyebrows. Honda, ever since the start of the hybrid era has fallen way behind the game and their partnership with McLaren produced no result that showed signs of optimism. But there were factors that made it difficult for Honda to make efficient engines for McLaren that might have played a big role in the failure.
McLaren car was designed in a way that it left very little space for the engine and McLaren asked Honda to build a very small engine famously called the ‘size zero’ engine which caused the Japanese manufacturers a lot of problems and the end product did not fit in well with the car causing multiple failures. 3 years later the deal is over and both teams can breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to the future.
McLaren are partnering up with Renault as they believe that the Renault engine was good enough to get the Red Bull wins. Red Bull however have taken a leap of faith with Honda and Honda are stepping up their game to prove they can be reliable engine makers in F1.
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) March 10, 2019
Through the Barcelona testing Red Bull cars did very well and their Honda engines proved very reliable with the car not once facing a reliability issue with the engine even though other issues plagued them, new Red Bull driver, Pierre Gasly in particular.
Despite the good performances, Honda’s technical director Toyoharu Tunabe said they were not getting complacent and were going to continue working to provide Red Bull even more performance form the engine. But as per recent development Honda is also rebuilding it’s operating structure to further increase efficiency.
Masahi Yamamoto, the previous head of motorsport for Honda, will now serve full time as the companies brains, on F1. Yamamoto played a major role in securing the Red Bull-Honda deal for the Japanese manufacturers and his move to F1 shows Honda’s commitment to living up to the promises made to Red Bull. Yamamoto had previously been looking at the developments across all motorsports for Honda, but his exclusive new role as head of operations for F1 shows how valuable this deal is for Honda as the success with Red Bull can launch them into the spotlight once again, while a failure to match expectations might cut its journey in F1 short.
So far all the signs have been good for Red Bull and Honda, and with the effort that Honda seems to be putting into this, maybe Red Bull can make a run at the Championship that has previously been a battle between Mercedes and Ferrari.