Honda is not yet strong enough to win races without a perfect weekend, according to its Formula 1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe.
Red Bull gave Honda the first podium of the V6 turbo era in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, and followed that up with its first win in Austria. Max Verstappen made it two wins in three races ahead of the summer break in Germany before securing pole in Hungary, and while Tanabe expects a more competitive showing in Singapore than the last two races, he says the team still needs ideal circumstances to be victorious.
“The previous wins came together when everything went well, including the conditions,” Tanabe told RACER. “So it was the driver, team, PU and everything. We got the best result, but from our point of view everything went perfectly, and that’s what allowed us to score the best result.
“It’s a little bit more difficult if we have something that is a little bit down, then we cannot win. We are not strong enough to beat the frontrunners in that scenario, so I hope everything goes well again and then we have a chance.”
Tanabe admits Honda is still wary of tackling circuits with multiple long straights such as Spa-Francorchamps and Monza, but he has seen progress from the way both Red Bull and Toro Rosso optimize their cars.
“The performance is always from the whole package. From a PU point of view, the high speed and high power sensitivity tracks, we are behind in terms of performance so you could say we were a little scared, but the package gives us some different results. For example last year with Toro Rosso it was not great in Spa and Monza, but this year it was not too bad. We will just keep pushing.
“Both teams are developing the performance very hard so I am looking forward to seeing their improvement at the track all the time.”