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Honda Has ‘Exceeded Expectations,’ Red Bull Says

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Verstappen Points at Honda Logo
Max Verstappen points to the Honda logo after winning the Austrian Grand Prix
Photo: Honda

When Red Bull Racing signed with Honda as its new Formula One engine supplier, it was regarded by many as a marriage of convenience. After all, the relationship between Red Bull and its previous supplier, Renault, had soured beyond repair, and none of the other manufacturers were willing to help power one of their biggest rival teams. Honda was the only option left.

So when Red Bull sang the praises of the Honda engine during the transition from 2018 to 2019, many believed it was the honeymoon period of the relationship. But about halfway into the 2019 season, that honeymoon period still doesn’t seem to have ended.

“This season was always going to be a transitionary year, with a new engine partner coming on stream and the whole marriage and integration that is involved,” said Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing Team Principal. “That has exceeded internal expectations, in terms of by race nine we have a win and we have had a couple of podiums.”

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Honda has been making substantial progress with its engine since leaving McLaren for Toro Rosso, the Red Bull sister team, in 2018. It has already introduced three upgrades in 2019, each taking the engine to a new level of performance and reliability. The latter had been a sore spot while at McLaren, but has so far seemed rock solid.

And if the Honda engine had once seemed clearly underpowered compared to the competition, this is no longer the case. It performed convincingly at the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix, where Max Verstappen scored a brilliant victory.

“It was a very emotive win for Honda in Austria,” Horner said. “Some of their board members were there and they are starting to see, after all those painful years with McLaren, that the investment is paying off.”

“We’re pushing for more in the second half of the year, which they have in the pipeline. Now they have tasted success and they see the benefit that success brings. After the difficulty of their reintroduction back into F1, the victory was the tonic they needed.”

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