Better Honda reliability lets them "put more time to improve performance"

26-12-2019 09:44
by Nicolás Quarles van Ufford
F1 News
Better Honda reliability lets them put more time to improve performance

After what has been Honda's best season by far as an engine supplier in the turbo-hybrid era, technical director Toyoharu Tanabe explained how being able to focus on performance rather than cleaning up previously made mistakes proved key to their successes.

It was Honda's first year in their partnership with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, yielding three wins as well as 10 podiums. While that might not seem as much for a team of Red Bull's stature, Max Verstappen's win in Austria was Honda's first win since 2006 (Jenson Button's maiden win in Hungary) and the Dutchman's P3 in Australia at the start of the year was their first podium in over a decade.

Remarkably, Red Bull only suffered one mechanical retirement in all of 2019 when Pierre Gasly ground to a halt at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which is something the Bulls could only dream of during their years with Renault.

Honda weren't exactly known for their reliability either in their three years with McLaren, showing just how far they've come since starting their partnership with Toro Rosso in 2018. 

"I believe we have learned what is a priority for qualifying, or how to win the race," Tanabe explained to

"On the other hand, reliability is not perfect enough this year, but our reliability is getting much better since last year. It means we can develop positive items, not a countermeasure test or bench test.

"We spent a lot of time on something that was a clean-up test [in previous years].

"Now we can put more time to improve our performance. Then we can think about the more detail with each area."

Both Red Bull and Toro Rosso have taken several grid penalties, however, to accommodate Honda's many engine upgrades in their bid to catch up to Mercedes and Ferrari. Can they provide Verstappen and Red Bull with a championship-contending power unit in 2020?

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