The Japanese car manufacturer is heading into its final F1 season hoping for a good sign-off with partners Red Bull and AlphaTauri.
Having fast-tracked a power unit that had originally been down for introduction in 2022, Honda says that early indications from its dyno testing in Japan are encouraging.
Honda’s F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe says the company feels ‘well prepared’ after its winter work.
“On the dyno the numbers we have seen match what we expected,” he explained as AlphaTauri revealed its 2021 challenger. “Let’s see how competitive we can be on track in the actual races.”
Tanabe said that some areas of the power unit had been the focus of bigger changes, as Honda looked to make gains compared to the opposition.
“It is difficult to be specific about which parts have seen the most work, but in order to improve power and reliability, we have made modifications to the ICE, turbine and ERS,” he explained.
“This is our third year with Scuderia AlphaTauri and in order to improve as a whole, we have also improved the installation and packaging of the entire PU.”
Tanabe also explained the revised timing of the power unit specification being introduced this year, and how it had first been delayed last season before then again being brought forward when Honda announced its F1 departure.
“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we were going to introduce a new PU for this year,” he said. “However, given all the difficulties and restrictions because of the long F1 shutdown, combined with the European lockdown and delay in parts supply, we had decided to postpone it to 2022.
“However, taking into account the decision announced in October 2020, that Honda would leave the sport at the end of 2021, we reassessed the situation and changed our plan again to reintroduce it in 2021.
“It was very tight timing to make this change, but we managed to bring forward the development and preparation programme. At Honda, we felt that we really wanted to use all our technical know-how before leaving the sport.”
Tanabe also welcomed the agreement that Honda had reached with Red Bull, for the energy drinks company to take over the running of its power units from the start of next year.
“I think it is the right thing for Honda to do, considering our relationship with Scuderia AlphaTauri and Red Bull Racing, and how much Honda has benefited from those partnerships,” he explained.
“It also reflects the importance of our role and history, as part of the world of Formula 1 over several decades. So, I am glad that Honda has been able to help the two teams and the sport in this way.”