Honda expected worse 2019 Formula 1 season given initial "big gap"

Honda's 2019 Formula 1 season has been better than technical director Toyoharu Tanabe expected given the "big gap" he saw at the start of the year

Honda expected worse 2019 Formula 1 season given initial "big gap"

With new partner Red Bull, Honda has secured its first victory since rejoining F1 in 2015 and ended a win drought that stretched back to 2006.

Tanabe joined the F1 project ahead of the 2018 season and has been a key player in Honda's improved reliability and development process.

He told Autosport: "When we started the Barcelona test and the first race, early in the season, I saw a big gap between our performance and the top runners' performance.

"We kept pushing and working very hard to reduce the gap, but it's still there.

"We've got two victories with Max [Verstappen], the good thing is Toro Rosso got one podium.

"Germany was a very tricky race, the teams and drivers worked very precisely and reacted very quickly to changing conditions. It gave us a good result.

"So far, [it has gone] better than I expected.

"But our desire is more than the current results. I know it's not easy.

"We have the team, driver and engine working well, and can achieve our goal.

"That's what I'm thinking now."

Honda has introduced two upgrades already in 2019, which has helped it close that initial gap to leading engine manufacturers Ferrari and Mercedes.

Verstappen's victories in Austria and Germany were split by a strong performance in Britain, where Red Bull has struggled in recent years, and followed by the first Red Bull-Honda pole in Hungary.

Tanabe, who is often reserved with his emotions, said: "It's a little difficult to show you my mind, but actually I am very happy!

"People are working very hard at Sakura and there are many people watching us inside of Honda.

"The first win is one of the milestones. But our target is higher.

"I'm very happy, but we don't stop. Always another, another, one more.

"The goal is the championship. We are still far from the championship."

Verstappen's pole in Hungary translated into second place in the race, as Mercedes outgunned Red Bull on strategy and allowed Lewis Hamilton to win.

Tanabe said that performance showed "there is a gap" between Mercedes and Red Bull-Honda, and was further evidence for how much it still needs to improve.

"Not only this race, but also from the first race," he said.

"We can summarise the gap or performance difference between Mercedes and us.

"That type of data gives us a kind of target or real answer to our gap."


shares
comments
Verstappen: Leclerc isn't the only young-gun threat in Formula 1

Previous article

Verstappen: Leclerc isn't the only young-gun threat in Formula 1

Next article

Alfa Romeo gained 1.5% on leading F1 teams after dip from 2018

Alfa Romeo gained 1.5% on leading F1 teams after dip from 2018
Load comments
The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers Plus

The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers

Michael Schumacher is the latest sporting superstar to get the ‘Netflix treatment’, with a special documentary film airing on the US streaming giant’s platform this month. DAMIEN SMITH has the inside track on how the filmmakers gained access to tell the human story behind one of Formula 1’s most publicity-shy champions - while the man himself, for obvious reasons, is in absentia… 

The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery Plus

The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery

For the second race in a row, Mercedes has ended the first day of track action on top. It’s in a commanding position at the Russian Grand Prix once again – this time largely thanks to Max Verstappen’s upcoming engine-change grid penalty. But there’s plenty to suggest all hope is not lost for the championship leader at Sochi

The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1 Plus

The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1

OPINION: With its days apparently numbered, the MGU-H looks set to be dropped from Formula 1’s future engine rules in order to entice new manufacturers in. While it may appear a change of direction, the benefits for teams and fans could make the decision a worthwhile call

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2021
The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots Plus

The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots

Team Lotus ceased to exist in 1994 - and yet various parties have been trying to resurrect the hallowed name, in increasingly unrecognisable forms, ever since. DAMIEN SMITH brings GP Racing’s history of the legendary team to an end with a look at those who sought to keep the flame alive in Formula 1

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background Plus

Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background

OPINION: Formula 1 reconvenes for the Russian Grand Prix two weeks after the latest blow in ‘Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton’. While the Silverstone and Monza incidents were controversial, they thankfully lacked one element that so far separates the 2021 title fight from the worst examples of ugly championship battles

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus Plus

How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus

Mika Hakkinen became Michael Schumacher’s biggest rival in Formula 1 in the late-90s and early 2000s, having also made his F1 debut in 1991. But as MARK GALLAGHER recalls, while Schumacher wowed the world with a car that was eminently capable, Hakkinen was fighting to make his mark with a famous team in terminal decline

Formula 1
Sep 21, 2021
The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey  Plus

The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey 

Before Michael Schumacher – or anyone else – had driven the 191 (or 911 as it was initially called), Eddie Jordan turned to a fellow Irishman to test his new Formula 1 car. JOHN WATSON, a grand prix winner for Penske and McLaren, recalls his role in the birth of a legend…

Formula 1
Sep 20, 2021
The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog Plus

The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog

A podium finisher in its first outing but then never again, the BRM P201 was a classic case of an opportunity squandered by disorganisation and complacency, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
Sep 18, 2021