After an encouraging start for Toro Rosso in their collaboration with Honda, sources suggest that, compared to Renault, their engine is now down on power by as little as 15 HP – considerably less than in previous years, when the Japanese manufacturer supplied McLaren.
This is turn has led Red Bull to believe that Honda will be able to catch up with Renault by the end of the 2018 Formula 1 season, which coincidentally is when Red Bull’s contract with the French company runs out.
“The Honda package is technically interesting,” stated Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko in an interview with Autosport.
“The engine is very light and now the reliability is there. They speak of continuous performance improvements. The engine should be at Renault level by the end of this year.”
Meanwhile, team principal Christian Horner is obviously happy to have a choice of engines for 2019: “Obviously we are in a position for the first time in probably the last 10 years that we have a choice moving forwards. That is a position that we have not been in for a long, long time. There has either been a veto or a block or a non desire from supplier to supplier.”
Both Horner as well as Marko have been impressed with how Honda have been performing for Toro Rosso, with Marko adding that the two companies already have a solid working relationship.
“Collaboration between Toro Rosso and Honda is very good, because we didn’t just tell the Japanese what the engine should look like. Immediately after signing the contract there was an exchange of technicians between Faenza, Sakura in Japan and Milton Keynes, where Honda also has a small factory. That’s where the current car and the engine installation were discussed and actually done.”
The new car will make its debut this weekend at the season’s opener in Melbourne, Australia. As for the future, if Toro Rosso is satisfied with their engine supplier’s performance, then a Honda-powered Red Bull could very well be in the cards for 2019.