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Honda's 2023 F1 reliability fixes to open up Red Bull strategic options

Honda believes that the reliability improvements it has made to its Formula 1 engine will open up more strategic options for Red Bull and AlphaTauri this season.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18, Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT03

With an F1 power unit freeze in place since the start of last year, manufacturers are not allowed to deliver any specific performance upgrades.

However, car makers can still introduce reliability fixes, some of which may also deliver consequential power gains.

There has even been talk over the winter that some manufacturers have found double-digit horsepower increases as the result of reliability improvements they have implemented.

Speaking at a press conference in Japan on Monday regarding Honda's engine plans for the 2023 campaign, its F1 project leader Tetsushi Kakuda was clear that tweaks his company have introduced have not delivered such a power lift.

However, he says that refinements will help improve the way that teams Red Bull and AlphaTauri can run their engines around a lap, and that should result in improved lap times.

"Improving the reliability is not going to help improve the power of the PU itself," he said.

"By regulation, there's only a certain type of development we can do with a power improvement. So, talking about reliability, if that can be improved, this is going to help with giving more options from a strategic perspective in how you can use the power unit."

Kakuda explained that Honda's analysis of its engine performance last year showed that it was now the benchmark in terms of its power deployment, which likely contributed to Red Bull's straightline speed advantage.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

"Last year, I believe all the PU manufacturers prioritised performance in their development, and so did we," he commented.

"We made every effort to recover the performance loss due to the E10 fuel introduced by the regulation change. But, as a result, the internal load to the engine increased significantly compared to the previous year and the reliability was severely compromised.

"As a result, several problems surfaced during the 2022 season. We have been working to address those problems for this season.

"Not only must we improve the areas where problems have become apparent, but also we have been preparing ourselves to have wider strategies by identifying the limits of each part and maximizing its potential.

"In addition to improving reliability, we deepen our understanding of our PU to further optimise the control and energy management.

"We have also matured ourselves in the electrification technologies, where we had a clear advantage last year, especially the MGU-K deployment. In addition, we have continued to work with our suppliers to improve the precision of parts in terms of manufacturing, quality inspection, governance, as well as the precision power unit assembly.

"HRC Sakura has been making an all-out effort for this coming season. So, we believe we are fully prepared for the pre-season tests starting this week."

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