Honda Engine is ‘Best Part’ of Red Bull’s F1 Car
Following a strong opening Australian Grand Prix that resulted in a podium finish, Honda’s best-ever result in Formula One’s hybrid V6 era, Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko declared that the Honda engine was the “best part” of the Red Bull car.
“The best part of the package is the Honda engine,” he told Auto Motor und Sport. “For our part we need to improve the chassis. We have too little downforce, but that’s born of the philosophy of the last five years where we had to constantly compensate for the lack of performance.”
Dr. Marko is talking about Red Bull’s former engine supplier Renault, which — despite helping Red Bull to four consecutive titles from 2010 to 2013 — had always lagged behind the competition in terms of engine power.
“That’s why we didn’t have big wings in Melbourne,” Dr. Marko said. “They don’t exist in our imagination. We will try to solve this as quickly as we can put it through CFD development and production.”
He added that while Honda is currently down about 10-20 horsepower to Mercedes, the Japanese company is promising to close the gap “soon” — and if the upgrade forces Red Bull to take grid penalties early in the season, Dr. Marko says the team would do so.
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Max Verstappen, who finished third at the Australian Grand Prix, also praised the Honda engine, though he was more careful not to criticize Renault. “It’s just a completely different engine, but I don’t like comparing with what we had before,” he told the Dutch Ziggo Sport in post-race interviews. “I don’t want to upset anyone.”
Verstappen qualified fourth in the race and was able to get by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for the final podium spot. And while that strong result has helped Honda relax a little, the manufacturer is not altering its targets for the year.
“[We are] a little bit more relaxed from the pressure. And it is also another motivation for the development,” Honda F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe told Autosport after the race. “We see again a clear gap between the top teams. The podium doesn’t make any changes [to targets or expectations].”
“It’s not easy to tell where our performance is now. We go to a different place, maybe we are in a different position. But generally, the result and the race pace, we are encouraged from that.”
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