Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has been “hugely impressed” by Honda ahead of the start of a new partnership with the Japanese manufacturer in 2019.
Honda has made a clear step forward with its latest specification of power unit, with changes to the combustion chamber introduced in Russia and raced for the first time in Japan. With Red Bull switching from Renault next season, Horner (pictured above with Honda F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe) says plenty of work has already taken place with Honda and gives his team encouragement for the future.
“We’ve been very impressed with the progress that Honda have been making during the course of this year,” Horner said. “Obviously, we’re now working closely regarding incorporating the engine into RB15 for next year. I have to say the communication has been excellent between both companies. We’re hugely impressed by the effort, commitment, desire, determination to succeed that there is in Honda.”
The two Toro Rossos qualified sixth and seventh at Suzuka last weekend before fading in the race, and while Horner is buoyed by recent progress he says the main focus is on the gap to Mercedes at the front of the grid.
“It’s obvious that progress — and good progress — is being made and that’s really encouraging for us. Our focus is not on where our current position is. It’s where the lead position is. That’s the same goal that Honda share.
“Inroads are being made to reduce that gap to the benchmark in Formula 1. You need all elements to be performing to win in this sport, and of course the engine is a key element. We’re looking very much forward to 2019 and starting this relationship with Honda.”
Honda’s general manager of its motorsports division, Masashi Yamamoto, echoed Horner’s sentiments about the early stages of the partnership but is primed for an increase in pressure working for a team that has so far won on three occasions this season.
“Regarding 2019, we are very pleased to also work with another top team,” Yamamoto said. “We believe Red Bull is a top team in Formula 1. We — me and Christian — we have had great communication throughout the year, and obviously there is pressure; however, this pressure, we turn it into good energy, and this good energy will bring us fantastic and fabulous results.”