The long straight at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix will be “challenging” for Honda despite progress with its power unit this year, according to its F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe.
Honda struggled with its energy recovery system (ERS) deployment compared to other power unit manufacturers over the past three seasons, making it tough for its drivers to defend on long straights. Baku features a 1.3-mile flat-out section on the run to Turn 1 while the circuit puts high demands on the ERS due to the level of full deployment required, and when asked how the long straight will be for Honda, Tanabe told RACER: “Challenging!
“Of course we need to improve some areas. I think [China] was not a disappointing result in terms of our straight performance. It’s the total package that has improved there.”
Adding that it was good for Honda to see its performance capability with Toro Rosso in Bahrain – a track with a number of straights where Pierre Gasly finished fourth – Tanabe says the focus is on finding more consistency to finish higher in the midfield battle on a regular basis.
“We saw the competitiveness as a package, so not only the chassis and not only the PU but also the drivers. Especially in our case, the first race was not good, the second race we were kind of happy and then in China it was disappointing.
“We believe we can improve our performance so we don’t stay in this position. We would like to be better. Generally we see the competitiveness but not in isolation. In China we saw a big change in the winner and the podium…
“We don’t set very specific positions as a target. As we always say, we develop performance and reliability during the off-season and also during the season, trying to improve step-by-step.”