Just how confident is Red Bull Racing with regards to next season’s engine switch from Renault to Honda? According to team principal Christian Horner, his outfit would have been pretty much where they are now even if the switch had already taken place.
In an interview with Autosport, Horner revealed that, based on their data, if they had used Honda engines in 2018 instead of waiting for 2019, they could have still won in China and Monaco seen as how Honda is “within one per cent” of Renault.
“We’d have still won the grands prix we won,” said Horner. “Honda are within 1% of our measurement of where we currently are.”
“There’s still a significant chunk to get to Ferrari and Mercedes, but having the full focus of an OEM like Honda behind us, combined with the fact that with Renault we we’re becoming more and more the customer as inevitably their focus becomes more centered on their own team, it was absolutely the right timing to go this different path.”
RBR has been using Toro Rosso’s Honda engine supply deal in order to learn more about their upcoming 2019 engine. The Red Bull boss also said that Honda offers greater design and development capacity than Renault.
“With where we currently are with Renault, the positioning of any box, any juncture, on the engine is dictated by their own works team. We have to accommodate whatever Renault Enstone want to adopt. Sometimes we have to make compromises to accommodate that.”
“With Honda, we will have the ability to have the discussions in advance to try to optimize the integration between engine and chassis. They are earlier on the curve and they have the resource and the capacity.”
Despite making significant advances this year compared to previous seasons, Toro Rosso’s Honda-powered cars are still trailing the likes of McLaren Renault and Renault’s works team in the 2018 Constructor Standings. While Renault and McLaren have 70 and 48 points respectively, Toro Rosso has scored only 19 points in 10 races. On the other hand, it is really Red Bull’s second team, and has nothing like the resources allocated to RBR – nor its drivers, for that matter.