Red Bull chiefs are bullish(!) about their gamble to switch to Honda power as they brag about the “missile” they have bolted onto the four cars the energy drinks organisation fields in the Formula 1 World Championship this year.
Toro Rosso impressed mightily in the first F1 Test in Barcelona last week, while Red Bull were happy to keep their powder dry as they racked mileage with their new engine supplier.
Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly will again target a lot of mileage while performance is expected to be dialled up during the second Formula 1 preseason test, at Circuit de Catalunya, which kicks off tomorrow [Tuesday] at the Spanish Grand Prix venue.
Speaking ahead of the second four-day test, Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko told Auto Bild, “Honda has incredible resources. We see that both at the factory in England and here on the track. It’s unbelievable how many parts they take to testing.”
The Austrian revealed that Honda did not crank up in their PU at Circuit de Catalunya last time out and added, “You already notice a big power boost. At the moment we are number two just behind Ferrari, who look very good. Maybe two or three tenths. But we are faster than Mercedes and that’s not just because of our good car, but also because of the engine.”
If there is one word to sum up the malady afflicting the Honda PU since its birth then ‘vibration’ would do it, but Marko insisted, “To cure this, appropriate measures have taken. We are fully satisfied.”
In an interview with Formula Passion, team principal Christian Horner echoed his colleague’s enthusiasm, “The [Honda] engine is much better than what we had with Renault.”
“We are right on schedule with the work programme, the car works as we expected and the Honda power unit is a rocket. Gasly told us that the engine is stronger than last year and Max is enthusiastic, he feels a lot more power.”
Asked about the different aero paths pursued by test pacesetters Ferrari on the SF90, compared to Adrian Newey’s RB15, Horner replied, “We are using what works best for us, we have studied the Ferrari concept but our simulations tell us that our aero has more [development] potential.”
Fighting talk from the Red Bull bosses. So far all the boxes have been ticked: mutual respect; a strong early bond; an ok season one with Toro Rosso; a decent PU package for both teams to sample in testing; solid package for Test 1…
But what they really have in their ‘rocket’ will first be revealed in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix and finally a day later at the end of the race in Melbourne.