Why Honda's Formula 1 engine is 'a lot stronger' than people think

Honda has made "great steps forward" and is "a lot stronger than they get credit for", according to one of Toro Rosso's Formula 1 midfield rivals Marcus Ericsson

Why Honda's Formula 1 engine is 'a lot stronger' than people think

Pierre Gasly's two-point haul at the Belgian Grand Prix two weekends ago took Toro Rosso and Honda to 30 points, the same as McLaren scored throughout the whole of 2017 in the last of its three dismal years with Honda, as it prepares to supply the senior Red Bull team next year as well.

While Honda has kept its developments under wraps this season, it has made considerable gains in driveability since last year and introduced a combustion engine upgrade in Canada.

This has been followed up by smaller developments that have not triggered combustion engine changes or new energy recovery system components.

Sauber driver Ericsson bore the brunt of Honda's progress at Spa, where he was surprised by the straightline speed of the Toro Rossos even accounting for their DRS use.

"I was in the DRS [zone] of Gasly and I couldn't overtake him, I couldn't even get close," said Ericsson, whose Sauber did suffer from more drag at both Spa and Monza.

"I think that shows quite a lot that Honda has made great steps forward.

"I still believe Mercedes and Ferrari are the two strongest power units but then Honda is a lot stronger than they get credit for.

"That was confirmation when we were racing them."

While speed trap figures can be misleading, Honda has trimmed its top-speed deficit year-on-year.

Gasly followed up his Belgian GP result by making it into the final part of Italian GP qualifying at Monza as Honda's engine stood up to the test of two of F1's most power-sensitive circuits.

Its reliability has also been much better this season, with Max Verstappen pointing out that its increased engine component usage compared to rivals is a red herring because Honda has made tactical changes on bad weekends to increase the components in its pool.

As well as running the engines harder, Honda has also reacted to deficiencies exposed by the Azerbaijan GP earlier this season.

It has since developed its energy deployment strategy and adapted its communication between team and drivers.

This has combined to facilitate Honda's encouraging performance despite waiting to introduce a final major upgrade of 2018.

Unlike Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault, Honda did not introduce an upgrade at Spa or Monza but Gasly still outqualified both Williams drivers twice, plus a Force India, a Haas and both Saubers in Italy.

Honda also had the edge on the Renault works team in Belgium and its customer McLaren in Italy, although both had Renault's previous-spec engine.

"As a package, including the energy management, it worked well," Honda technical director Toyoharu Tanabe told Autosport.

"We are still catching up the stronger manufacturers that have an engine that's higher than us, so of course we expected difficult race weekends at high-speed circuits.

"That's why the result is very good and important for our motivation."

shares
comments
Minor changes to Singapore Formula 1 track for 2018 grand prix
Previous article

Minor changes to Singapore Formula 1 track for 2018 grand prix

Next article

How F1 solves its biggest logistical nightmare

How F1 solves its biggest logistical nightmare
Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment? Plus

Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment?

The Singapore Grand Prix has, explains BEN EDWARDS, played an important role in Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 career. As the series returns to the Marina Bay Street Circuit for the first time in three years, he faces the latest challenge with an underperforming Mercedes car

Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals Plus

Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals

Although Ferrari's chances of title glory in 2022 have evaporated, chairman John Elkann expects the team to have chalked up both championships by 2026. Both require drivers to play the team game and, having now become more comfortable with the F1-75, Carlos Sainz may be Ferrari's key to title glory

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2022
How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes Plus

How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes

With Formula 1’s future engine regulations now agreed, MARK GALLAGHER wonders if they will provide a more competitive field than past attempts actually managed

Formula 1
Sep 26, 2022
How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era Plus

How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era

STUART CODLING charts the development of the Williams FW09, the ugly duckling that heralded the start of the title-winning Williams-Honda partnership

Formula 1
Sep 25, 2022
The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared Plus

The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared

Recent moves within the driver market have reminded MAURICE HAMILTON of a time when contracts weren’t worth the paper they weren’t written on…

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2022
Audi’s innovative first assault on grand prix racing Plus

Audi’s innovative first assault on grand prix racing

It has been a long time coming but Audi’s arrival in Formula 1 is finally on the horizon for 2026. But it won’t be its first foray into grand prix racing, as the German manufacturer giant has a history both long and enthralling

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2022
The seven factors powering Verstappen's 2022 F1 domination Plus

The seven factors powering Verstappen's 2022 F1 domination

After a tooth and nail and, at times, toxic Formula 1 world championship scrap last year, Max Verstappen's march to a second consecutive title has been the exact opposite. But has he really changed in 2022? Here's a dive into what factors have played a crucial role, both inside the Verstappen camp and elsewhere, in the Dutch driver's domination

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2022
Why Hamilton is still the man to keep driving Mercedes forward Plus

Why Hamilton is still the man to keep driving Mercedes forward

Lewis Hamilton’s words in a recent Vanity Fair interview define both his world-view and his approach to this season: one of perpetual struggle against adversity. As GP RACING explains, that’s what Lewis feeds off – and why, far from being down and nearly out, he’s using his unique skillset to spearhead Mercedes’ revival…

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2022