Honda’s progress on the 2019 engine has got Red Bull a little bit more excited than they would publicly admit. The Milton Keynes outfit said they are “really encouraged” by the monthly progress made by the Japanese engine maker.
Though next season would be the first year of the partnership with Red Bull, Honda is happy with the style of arrangement it has with its newest customer team. Red Bull has emphasised they will not micromanage Honda’s engine development and will maintain a different approach to the relationship than the heavy-handedness that McLaren used.
Explaining their approach to Sky F1, team boss Christian Horner said: “We have done the diverse opposite to McLaren. We’ve said ‘go and build the best engine you can and then tell us what size radiators you want and we will make it fit’. “
“We want Honda to go for power over packaging.”
It all started when Red Bull encouraged Toro Rosso to sign up as Honda’s customer in 2018. The team was dissatisfied with Renault’s progress and wanted to check out the nearest available competitor for a possible switch in 2019. After monitoring Honda’ progress throughout 2018, Red Bull was convinced the Japanese company can come a lot closer to Mercedes and Ferrari power output than the French engine.
“We see an awful lot of encouraging progress being made,” added Horner.
“Month by month, they are definitely closing the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari. What we are really encouraged by is the progress Honda are making.
“It’s positive for F1.”
The Milton Keynes outfit will run the RB15 fitted with Honda’s latest engine for the first time during the preseason testing at Barcelona. The event is scheduled to start on February 18 and may mark the first time Honda is back at the front of the grid ever since it returned to the series.