Although all the signs are very good for Formula 1’s latest partnership between Honda and Red Bull, and despite the vast resources available from both organisations for their collective Formula 1 programme, team chief Christian Horner is looking to the long term and downplaying expectations of instant results.
In an interview published on the Honda F1 website, Horner explained, “Inevitably when you’ve got such a big change – it’s the first time that we’ve changed power supplier in 12 years – there’s going to be a getting to know you process.”
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, so whilst we’re expecting to make progress throughout the year the target is very much looking at this as a two-to-three-year project.
“In terms of the gap to Ferrari and Mercedes, we know where we’ve been the last couple of years. There are circuits that have suited us, there are circuits that haven’t, and our target is to be consistent across all types of venue.”
Honda and McLaren famously parted at the end of 2017 after a partnership that brought only agony for both parties but was, in retrospect, never expected to work as the two corporations differed vastly on how to approach racing. The split was inevitable.
But Horner suggests their partnership with the Japanese auto giant, is different, “I have found working with Honda very straightforward. There’s a great deal of passion and enthusiasm.”
“It’s been a very open and straightforward dialogue that the two companies have been having, and you can see their sense of determination and the commitment that Honda has made to Formula 1. It’s a perfect match for us. It’s been enjoyable and hopefully we can also have some fun along the way as well.”
Horner credits the successful 2018 partnership with Toro Rosso and Honda for smoothing integration by Red Bull this season, “Strategically it was a vital decision when Toro Rosso elected to take up a partnership with Honda for the 2018 season.”
“It gave Red Bull Technology – who supply the drivetrain solution to Toro Rosso – the ability to see behind the scenes a little of how Honda operate and their working practices, as we incorporated our transmission onto their engine.”
“Monitoring the progress through the year meant that, by the time it got to Red Bull Racing making an engine decision, in the end it was very straightforward,” explained Horner.
In the end, it is results that will matter. To win races and championships Red Bull powered by Honda need to beat the collective might of Ferrari and Mercedes.