Marko: Honda’s updated engine was three-tenths faster

Speculation that Red Bull will finally end their once successful but now highly fractious partnership with Renault gathered steam when team consultant Helmut Marko revealed that the Japanese manufacturer found three-tenths of a second with their power unit update in Canada.

Auto Bild report that behind closed doors Red Bull chiefs are impressed with the progress that Honda is making with their Toro Rosso junior team. Information is that the GPS data is increasingly encouraging, with signs of better drivability and consistency from the Honda power unit package relative to their rivals.

Speaking after the race in Canada, in which Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo finished third and fourth respectively, Marko said of the progress, “We’re talking about three-tenths faster lap times.”

Renault also made progress with their own team arguably the Best of the Rest in Montreal, while Red Bull lacked a ‘party mode’ for qualifying they were strong in race conditions, able to match both Ferrari and Mercedes on Sunday. McLaren were woeful.

Renault chief Cyril Abiteboul is keen to have an engine decision claiming further delays could compromise their 2019 production, “I guess they have all the information that they need now. I don’t see why they are going to further delay the decision.”

But Marko insists that the answer will be closer to the end of this month, perhaps at the team’s home race at the Red Bull Ring, Marko said, “I can’t tell you anything until Austria. We will have facts which we are waiting for and we want to be prepared to make the right decision.”

The stage is set for an almighty divorce which has been looming for the last four years as the wonder era, when the partnership won eight F1 titles between 2010 and 2013, has become a distant memory for Red Bull and Renault.