Honda have finally made a good return to the F1 with their engines being run on the Red Bull and the Toro Rosso. Ever since the hybrid era began, Honda has been struggling to get to grips with the engines and have tried and failed often to provide reliable engines.
For 2019 though, Red Bull joined hands with Honda after an unreliable year with Renault as their engine partners. This indicated that Honda had finally made a step in the right direction if a team as good as Red Bull was willing to risk getting into bed with them this season.
The assumptions proved to be right as Red Bull and Toro Rosso completed lap after lap on the Honda engine that impressed everyone in their garages. Over the 8 days, there were no reliability issues through the long runs both cars did. Red Bull boss Christian Horner called the engine a thing of beauty.
Honda’s technical director for F1, Toyoharu Tunabe admitted he was nervous about the partnership and how the engine would hold up through the 8 days of constant testing. While no teams come out of testing claiming to have finished products they are happy with, in what is seen as gamesmanship, Tunabe specifically pointed to the packaging while discussing what needs to be changed.
“We don’t have a serious problem with the current installation, but we found some issues because of the tight packaging,” said Tunabe.
“The shape was a little too aggressive, so we need to make it a little bit different. It’s not a big concern.”
While some immediate fixes were applied during the Barcelona testing, permanent changes will be made in the factory before the Melbourne GP. However if the engine changes aren’t ready in time, Tunabe said that the current engine with small additions can be good to go for Melbourne as a worst case scenario, without affecting the performance much.
Red Bull aim to be closer to both Mercedes and Ferrari this year and while they still seem tone behind their two closest rivals, they appear to be a closer 3rd this year as compared to the past years.
Red Bull did manage to win 4 races despite their Renault engines last year, so if Honda continues to deliver and improves further, with a driver like Max Verstappen at the wheel, Red Bull can upset the applecart for Ferrari and Mercedes and make a real attempt to win the Championship.