Japanese engine supplier Honda gradually gained the confidence of professionals and fans of Formula 1 racing.
After Max Verstappen finished first in GP Austria, many members of Honda burst into tears behind the scenes. That image shows what the first win since 2006 meant for engine supplier from Japan.
Once a force at F1 in the 1980s and early 1990s, Honda’s F1 comeback in 2015 became a disaster when they partnered with McLaren. The motor they provided often had problems and lost speed. Despite improvements in the previous season when partnering with Toro Rosso, Honda was still considered a gamble by Red Bull when the team parted ways with Renault to cooperate with them.
Despite the successes in 2019, Honda engines are still ranked last in reliability among the four engine suppliers in F1. Many people think their power is at least 30bhp less than Renault engines, let alone Ferrari or Mercedes engines. However, Red Bull and Honda have had an effective cooperation and the hard-working, enthusiastic market of Japanese engine supplier is getting positive results.
After 12 races, they won 2 wins and 3 other times stood on podium podium. To overcome the achievements of 2018, Honda needs to help Red Bull have 9 more times to win podium, including 3 wins. It is not a small goal but Red Bull is on the way. They are 21 points more than this time last year. This achievement is largely due to the performance of Verstappen when he earned 181 points out of the 244 points Red Bull currently has. Last season, the Dutchman won only 105 points after 12 stages.
The key to Honda’s progress is its willingness to change, even to improve small details. It is an approach that demonstrates the desire to win. Honda has released two different engine specifications this season and is working on a third upgrade. They introduced many changes as well as remedies. One of them took place before GP Austria – a race to witness Verstappen win at “home ground” of Red Bull.
So how much has Honda improved over their lackluster image in previous years? Japanese engine supplier helped Verstappen win the first pole of his career at GP Hungary on 3/8. It was also Honda’s first pole win since returning to F1, proving they were capable of competing with Mercedes or Ferrari. On the track, the roar from the Honda engine is getting louder, showing an upgrade in power.
“I’m not sure if I can call it fear or not, but the negative feelings before each race are getting less and less. We are now less worried before each race,” said Honda’s racing director. Masashi Yamamoto told the press.
“We did not bad at the races like Spa or Monza last season. In fact, everything is better than what we expected. It depends on how we operate the engine and the team has improved. it’s much behind the Austrian GP, ”Yamamoto said before the Belgian GP, taking place at the Spa-Francorchamps racetrack this weekend.
“We clearly see progress from the previous season, especially on the racetrack. I’m glad the team did that. Honda is a big company, operating in many areas. One. Among them is the aircraft manufacturing division at Honda Jet, we found similarities between Honda Jet and F1, and we had a lot of problems with the MGU-H heat recovery unit and our partners at Honda Jet.
Communication between members of Honda also improved. “In general, we have English and Japanese engineers. We don’t have experienced Japanese track engineers because we didn’t attend F1 in a row. But they are gradually improving. Honda always wants to keep the closest connection with the team and the driver, “Tanabe continued.
Despite his initial success, Yamamoto admitted there was no guarantee of Honda’s future at F1 after their deal with Red Bull and Toro Rosso ended at the end of next season. He said that he and his colleagues must win more victories to stay with this race.
Honda’s next engine upgrade is expected to take place a week before the Japanese GP. At the moment, the atmosphere of the working of their team is very exciting. Yamamoto understood that cooperating with Red Bull was a risky business because Honda would have to compete with leading engine suppliers. However, he believes the home team will gradually assert their strength.