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Honda ‘Within 10 BHP’ of Top F1 Cars, Hamilton Says

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Red Bull RB14
Photo: Artes Max

Five-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, who trailed teammate Valtteri Bottas at the season-opening 2019 Australian Grand Prix, believes Honda has made great progress over the winter and has almost entirely caught up to its main rivals Mercedes and Ferrari.

With Max Verstappen at the wheel, the Honda-powered Red Bull RB15 racing car had no trouble overtaking Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari after the first and only round of pit stops (though Ferrari had reportedly turned down the engine, so take that with a grain of salt).

Nonetheless, Mercedes seems sure the combination of the Red Bull chassis with the Honda engine is a threat to be taken seriously this year. “Without doubt, the Red Bulls have much better power unit this year,” Hamilton said. “I think their engine performance is very, very close. I believe it’s within 10 bhp or something of the top cars. If you look at their GPS speed on the straights, they’re pretty much just as quick as us.”

For at least four of the last five years, the Mercedes engine was the class of the field. Honda came in late and had to play catchup, and after struggling during the first three years, the Japanese manufacturer seems to have made substantial progress.

“That’s a great start for them and I really hope the reliability’s strong for them so they can be really in the fight,” Hamilton added.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and advisor Dr. Helmut Marko have also praised the new Honda engine. “The progress they’ve made over the winter has been fantastic and the level of commitment that’s going in is enormous,” Horner said. Meanwhile, Marko declared the Honda engine was the best part of Red Bull’s 2019 F1 car.

With the Bahrain Grand Prix coming up, which features several medium and long straights, and where Toro Rosso managed an incredible fourth position last year, we should get a better sense of the progress Honda has made over the winter.