Towards Suzuka: Will Honda give Toro Rosso the F1 power to fend off Sauber?
Posted By: Editor   |  03 Oct 2018   |  9:27 am GMT  |  93 comments

With the Japanese Grand Prix weekend taking place just a matter of days after the Russian Grand Prix, Toro Rosso sacrificed the event in Sochi – or at least their grid slots – in order to assess power unit upgrades to maximise its performance at its home Grand Prix.

Toro Rosso used the Friday of the Russian Grand Prix to trial a heavily-upgraded internal combustion engine element of the power unit, whilst the remaining elements also underwent some optimisation.

Despite the positive signs, they ran older-spec power units for the rest of the weekend in order to preserve and further assess the upgrades ahead of Honda’s home race in Japan.

The upgrades are rumoured to be worth around half-a-second per lap, which would represent a huge leap in performance in the hard-fought midfield contest. And they need it, as a free scoring Charles Leclerc in the Sauber is now pushing the Swiss team to challenge them for valuable positions in the constructors’ championship table. There are just three points separating the two teams in the scrap for eighth place.

As a result of the upgrades, Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost claimed that Honda were now ahead of Renault in outright performance:

“Honda is making big steps forward,” Tost told “[In Friday practice] we had the new spec in the car and it was really fantastic.

“It is in front of Renault. [The] complete package.”

However, Honda will have a race against time to complete analysis work at the factory before their home race, as the upgrades are believed to have been suffering from higher-than-desired oscillations, in relation to the power units frequency against the chassis.

“Having studied all available PU data after FP2, we realised that, although the performance was encouraging, there is still some work to do in some areas such as calibration and matching the PU to the chassis,” said Honda F1’s Toyoharu Tanabe.

“We believe we can complete the work before the Japanese GP, so that we can run the new specification PUs on both cars from then on.”

The updates could arrive just in time for Toro Rosso; they currently hold on to eighth place in the constructors’ championship, but their lead over Sauber has reduced to just three points. The difference in prize money between eighth and ninth place will be worth achieving for two of the smaller teams on the grid.

Charles Leclerc continues to take the majority of Sauber’s points in 2018, and at the Sochi Autodrom he took his second consecutive top ten finish, capitalising on Toro Rosso’s double-DNF.

Whilst Honda and Toro Rosso are still pushing on with power unit development, Sauber could profit from the reliability advantage that the Ferrari PUs have had over Honda in 2018. Sauber’s opportunities may come from having fewer grid penalties in the remaining races of the season, which could be useful in a current formula where large pace differentials are needed to overtake a rival.

Honda made the switch from McLaren to Toro Rosso for the start of this season and, after less than one season at Toro Rosso, Red Bull were convinced enough to ditch Renault and take a chance on the Honda power units from next season. As a result, they have openly encouraged Honda to use Toro Rosso as test cars for next season.

By: Luke Murphy & James Allen

All images: Motorsport Images

Who do you think will finish ahead between Toro Rosso and Sauber? Have your thoughts on Red Bull’s decision to switch to Honda power units changed over the year? Leave your thoughts in the section below.

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Honda’s upgrade just installed in both Toro Rossos looks promising. Gasly’s P8 in FP2 is the first proof. We’ll have to wait for the remaining race weekends to learn more.

However, Toro Rosso have profited from an already improved Honda engine during almost all of 2018. It wasn’t too conspicious, but the speed trap data of many circuits show the trend. Monza is a typical example:

Look for the 4 Renault-powered cars: SAI, HUL, VER, RIC and compare them with the Honda-driven STRs of GAS and HAR. Gasly and even Hartley are doing better than Verstappen and Ricciardo! This has been a trend all season. Furthermore, they are on par with Sainz and Hulkenberg – often outpacing them as well. Now this was very different in 2017 when STR had Renault engines too. For a comparison, take Barcelona 2018:

Gasly is faster than all 4 Renault-powered cars. In 2017, the picture in Barcelona was very different:

Here Ricciardo and Verstappen are still fastest. They are faster than the Renaults (Hulkenberg and Palmer) and also clearly better than the then Renault-powered Toro Rossos driven by Sainz and Kvyat. What’s more, this was the trend in 2017.

So, with Honda already clear and consistent improvement at Toro Rosso compared to their Renault engine  last year.


Well the race is over, last year McHonda were 11th and 14th, ST Renault were a DNF, 13th and all three finishers a lap down. This year the ST Hondas were… 11th and 13th, McRenault 14th and 15th and once again all four a lap down.


So Mclaren have gone backwards, Toro Rosso have taken Mclaren’s place and Honda have gone nowhere. So nobody wins.


I have a sneeky suspicion that Honda might be just ahead of Renault in terms of both performance and reliability. Their relationship with RB and TR is healthy and professional and you can see they`re improving all the time. Even now I place them on par with Renault regarding reliability (with poor RB and works team experiencing way too many DNF`s). Honda finally got their mojo back and I wish them the very best. Not with McLaren sadly, because I really wanted is to work. Renault on the other hand is just plain terrible. With their experience and resources they produce very middle-class engine. I`m seriously worried about them. I hope Honda engine will get at least several podiums in 2019. Bring it on!

Tornillo Amarillo

Bottas, listen: Go for the win now, you did enough this season.

F1 is dangerous and Merc and Hamilton have to take some calculated risks, you too, so don’t worry about next year and go for the win by yourself in Japan!


He would be burned at the stake if he would do so and Ham in some bizarre way would not bring this WDC home. Even if it all just meant it got a bit closer again the same would happen

So hardly no one would do that at this stage, although one would wish that he could just race like this game should be about


Honda start each year with their main focus being the Suzuka 8 Hour, then Moto GP, then F1.

They missed the 8 hour by less than 40 seconds, & pretty much have MotoGP in the bag. Therefore they are now putting extra effort into the F1 program.

Percentage wise, Honda have the worlds largest R & D department, which is able to put more effort into the F1 PU, now that the bikes are done & dusted, so I have no doubt that they will present an upgrade at their home track that will ensure they stay ahead of Sauber.

Adding to Toro Rosso’s chances, is that Gasly has raced at Suzuka last year, but I don’t think Le Clerc has. Suzuka is one of the few remaining tracks where experience counts for a lot more than just horse power, so I expect TR will be in the points, & Sauber will be out, which will redress the situation from Sochi.


Mick. You left out Indycar where Honda are pretty handy. First and second this year with Dixon and Rossi. Have had a great run of late given the past dominance of Chevvy.

Tornillo Amarillo

Who do you think will finish ahead between Toro Rosso and Sauber?

Impossible to know. However Charles-in Sauber-Ferrari is alreadi proven extraordinary, while TR-Honda still has to prove it.
Honda doesn’exist for now… we have just to wait for their 5th season to evaluate any performance and reliability.


the upgrades are believed to have been suffering from higher-than-desired oscillations

Wasn’t this the issue that scuppered their second season, after a lot of self congratulations about their imagined progress, and what ended up as a disastrous season.

I’ll believe the power and reliability when they can show it on track, good luck with that.


Yes, that was the worrisome sentence. The Japanese, masters of absorbing building oscillations, not getting the same right for their engine.


I don’t know about the latest Honda update. More power plus unexpected problems. Where have we heard that before. You’d suspect the solution to those problems will cost….power. If they even manage to fix it by friday. But let’s see.

Fot the long term I’m pretty optimistic. Both Honda en Red Bull are capable, willing and desperate. That’s a glorious combination.

(Cultural differences will remain a challenge, obviously, but can it be worse than dealing with the French?)


Unexpected problems?

You cannot be sure that, when you mount a new engine in a car, the callibration that was done on the test bench, is still valid. Even more, you almost know they are nog going to be valid anymore because the vibration frequence of the engine/gearbox combo changes.

Thats why they wanted to re-calibrate and reverted to the spec B in Sochi.

This was not a surprise for the Honda engineers.


Hmmm… you may be right. TR and Honda look pretty happy today.


And then again, Gasly didn’t have full power in Q3….


Been chirping on for years about the mclaren/honda relationship. And with great certainty, I see the new partnership become overwhelmingly successful. Mclaren has been but a shadow of itself for many years now. Shame of them for blaming others for their lackluster performances. First it was mercedes for not providing equivalent P.U, then honda. Now with renault, they find themselves 1.5s+ down on Redbull. Frankly, mclaren hasn’t built a decent chassis since 2012. Even then, unreliability and operational incompetence cost lewis a shot.


Can’t see they have a plan B, C, D ect. either. Restructuring usually means cut downs or just what they already done, a mess.

Well they might still have a influx of oilmoney , but both the patience and oil will start to dry up sooner or later


Actually Haas, Mercedes and Ferrari.


Haas will finish ahead of Toro Rosso and Sauber.


and Renault.


It was destined to happen. Why? – “Alonso’s Luck or bad luck or karma”


McLaren arrogance I’m afraid.


Alonso bled them dry, while doing acxellent job as their amassador and motivator. The pr value was massive, it shows if not only on how many job offers he has to fend off on a daily basis:))


TR is operating as a lab atm. I’am convinced Honda will get things done and if, yes if, their PU outperforms the one from Renault, well together with their chassis RB might be very strong next season. TR?, well they probably will be a lab next year too I guess. It does not matter much if they will be 7th or 8th this year. They are in no danger financially.


wow honda ahead of renault…the decision of mclaren to part with honda now seems even more idiotic. At least it prompted them to look within, their downslide is a mclaren issue more than anything. Doesn’t seem like Mclaren will recover to the top step anytime soon. Say what you will, mclaren needs Ron dennis as their boss. The team wont get anywhere without him and will end up as another williams.


Ron had the right original idea. Then they took in FA, ZB and co and things went awry.


true also, but mclaren started blaming honda for its failings rather than looking within. Also Ron didn’t allow honda to supply other manufacturers either so no benchmark for how the team was performing. Renault at least have shown them that the lack of performance was not because of Honda…Mclaren needs to get their house in order…which I very much doubt will happen in this era.


Indeed let’s not glorify Ron here. He had his best years behind him, and couldn’t follow through with his plans or whatever went wrong there.

But the one’s that took his place and on top of that Alonso, it became a catastrophe, or even worse if there is such a thing. Now there is’nt much avenues to go, sad enough. But they have only themself to blame.


as a senior citizen I would have to comment that you have to consider how old Ron Dennis is now. not really possible anymore for him to sweep back in and find the glory days again. just sayin’.


yeah I agree but mclaren situation is quite similar to apple when jobs was ousted back in 90s. Mclaren has been his vision, there’s no other way about it. Honestly, ZB doesn’t sound like a man who has a vision for bringing mclaren to the top again.


And he wont. Look at apple nobody runs to their events. Jobs gone so are Ron. They just need t start get rid of people, that’s what they did when Job returned, and thatäs also a part of the solution, because the most of the top slice, and beancounters were dead meat in that company.

Good start with Alonso, but how get rid of the management? New owners?


So, is Franz Tost a butler to Christian Horner? 🙂


James, I can only remember one reliability issue with a Honda unit this year. They did strategically create a large PU pool by taking penalties, but it wasn’t because they were forced to due to reliability issues. The Ferrari vs Honda reliability statement would have been relevant the last few years, but not this year.


Whatever it’s got, Pierre Gasly will likely extract the maximum or thereabouts.

This boy is as promising as any of the Young Turks [an old expression you don’t come across much these days 🙂 ] to enter F1 in the last couple of years.

Max thinks he will have it easy next year with this team mate. I think he will get a surprise!

Plus we share the same initials….


Plus we share the same initials…

Phil, so do the two of you with Paul Gascoigne. Not a succesfully ended career to say the least.


Indeed Phil Glass . I have to admit Pierre did not not look that great imo when he did those races at the end of 2017 but he has really stepped up a gear this and just goes to show that he is another big talent to come out of the RB young driver roster. Time will tell whether Ferrari have found a gem to match some of RB juniors with Leclerc . Those that make the decisions must see him

Back to Pierre and on working with Honda there has been a podcast interview posted on F1’s Youtube Channel this week with Pierre and he said you have to be constructive and work with them and therefore understand and adapt to the Japanese culture of working rather than against them and being a pain like Alonso was .

Here is the link to the full podcast with Gasly:


What an incredibly nice and interesting guy! Thanks for the link to that podcast.


I believe they are old turks now, but still young for some reason


Torro Rosso trail McLaren by 28 points, but have scored the same number of points over the last five races (10), could TR outscore them by 29 over the next five with a power boost? As amusing as that would be, it is unlikely to happen, but Force India are only five ahead…..


I think the difference has been Alonso, and his lack of good points of late has caused the swing. If he wasn’t there TR would probably have been ahead all season


Just imagine the repercussions if Honda do get it right and Red Bull is able to fight for poles.
1) Mercedes hegemony over the championship would finally come to an end. Ultimately leading to a stretch of championships for the youngest WDC ever, and Mad Max now that Adrian Newey has finally seen light at the end of the tunnel.
2) Lewis realizing he can’t win in the world’s second best car decides to retire before 2021. And is succeeded by Esteban ‘it’ s not my race’ Ocon after Toto tried to pry Verstappen away from Red Bull for a record 75 mln a year.
3) Ferrari who were also in the running for Max decide not to keep Seb and decide to take Danny Ric out of his misery at Renault.
Boy, the weight that is on Honda’s shoulders but is it that far from reality?


A lot of assumptions there. If Mercedes stop developing, Honda & RBR might have a chance. Never gonna happen. A stretch of championships for Max? At best 2019 & 2020 before everything changes again. Not much of a stretch, and never gonna happen anyway – see point above. I’m no LH fan, but my goodness that guy is simply amazing. He could win races and championships in the 2nd or 3rd best car the way he is driving. So even if RBR or Ferrari come out in 2019 with a massive advantage over Mercedes, there is no gaurantee of success.

The most fascinating battle of the next two years will be between Renault & RBR. Renault is building something and spending some decent cash to get there. There’s not a lot of reporting of what talent they do or don’t have in the chassis design department. Bit of a dark horse. I’d guess they will still have the edge on Honda with their engine in 2019, but would struggle to match chassis design with RBR. So the battle will be really interesting and make for some great headlines if DR & MV get their elbows out in the races. I’d so love to see DR beat MV next year, and I’d love to see the look on HM’s face if DR makes a spectacular pass on the RBR. Who knows what will happen though, Renault could just as likely produce a lemon.


You assume that merc will just roll over and let them have it easy? LOL

Also, Lewis has already won with the 2nd fastest car, and Max is a long way from having the experience for going toe to toe with a 5 times WDC. He has the speed though, when hes not fighting another driver


Second fastest car? Mostly everyone who knows anything about F1 would disagree (except the Hamfans of course)


What you have not considered If Leclerc is proving a potential number one driver with the greatest of respect to DR Ferrari aren’t going to need to need him by then F1 . I think Daniel has blown his chance by not sticking with RBR. Sorry Daniel you made the wrong call. I really don’t think Ferrari fancy taking DR that much if they did they’d have done it instead of picking . Why would they pay money for DR if Leclerc doing well. I think Aussie fans are being very fanciful if they think he’s any any chance at all of being a Ferrari driver . That boat has sailed imo.


Dan won’t be driving for Ferrari. If Ferrari were ever going to pick him they would have done it this year. The timing was perfect. It didn’t happen because he was a threat to Vettel. Ferrari put all their eggs in the Vettel basket and he’s let them down again. Maybe Leclerc will do for Ferrari what Vettel can’t. I doubt it.

The interesting thing was Arrivabene stating he picks the drivers for Ferrari not Vettel when questioned on Leclerc’s appointment at the Singapore GP I think. He’s actually the same as Toto Wolff. Neither of them pick the drivers.


Are you saying Leclerc isn’t potential WDC material? I think you have that one wrong mate . Leclerc has has been brought in with the intention as far as Ferrari are concerned to be a long term replacement for Vettel.


Intention maybe, That doesn’t mean he is good enough.


@Stephen Taylor

Daniel will only regret it for the next 2 years. I don’t think Renault is capable of producing a title winning package for him or Nico. His contract is in line with Seb’s and Lewis’s and if any of those two do not perform, Merc and Ferrari surely has Daniel on their speed dial. He is one of the best drivers on the grid and he is in a good position for 2021. Of course, he has to beat Nico comprehensively but that shouldn’t be a problem. Nico is talented and capable but does not seem to have much luck. Daniel has been blessed by the lucky wand more than once.

Merc and Ferrari don’t need two number 1s right now and that’s probably the only reason Daniel was not considered.

If he doesn’t get the top drive, at least he was able to make what he is worth at Renault, who is rumoured to pay him big bucks. He deserves it. He needs to earn as much as he can while he is ar his peak and take care of himself financially and possibly a future wife and family. In the end, that’s more important than trophies and accolades.


Spot on FanF1


Ferrari imo have got two no1s . Leclerc isn’t going to just surrender to Vettel.


@Stephen Taylor

Lap times don’t lie. If Leclerc is faster or better than Vettel, it will show.

Ferrari and Vettel might find just themselves in the situation as Redbull and Vettel did in 2014 when Ricciardo was brought in.

Then Ferrari needs to make a decision. Right now, we won’t know how Leclerc will perform against Vettel.


With due respect to the editors, how could anyone possibly make an informed comment when this ‘upgraded engine’ has only run for two FP sessions? At the very best it can only be wild speculation. Thanks for the offer but i’ll pass on this one.


We’ve seen it all before from Honda Ken….this is another PR puff piece ahead of the home GP…


To Honda’s credit, they don’t put out puff pieces or state numbers, the press does that.


Very ‘Dragons Den’ and ‘The Voice’ Kenneth .
Like it 😃👏


And you, my good poster, get the golden ticket.

Hilarious. 😭


Max went from approx last to near the front in a few laps with his renault but torro rosso would have bumped around in the last few places all race with their unit.

Wonder when the first max outbust will happen in 2019 as he fills the vacatated alonso shoes.



That’s all Newey. And Max, of course, but the real benchmark is the works Renault team, who were miles behind with their own engine. And what happened to Alonso’s Renault powered Mclaren then? Even worse.

That means, if Honda is even just slightly ahead of Renault, with a Newey car, Max might just challenge for a win or more next year.


Lewis won the race while stroll and sirotkin where in the backfield… same engine…

What is your point?

And, FYI, the engine TR used in the race, was not the spec 3 engine.

Honda upgrade brings 50 bhp, propelling them in front of Renalt spec C, and the engine is more reliable than Renault.

The first outburst you will hear from Max, will be an outcry of joy, winning his 5th GP from pole.


did you even read the article?…by their own admission , they have chassis integration issues…the same thing happened when they heralded the 2017 McLaren…


I did some more reading about the subject.

When the vibration issues with McLaren were arising, Honda was surprised. They tested and calibrated the engine without a gearbox attached (which changes the oscillation frequency) and they ran into the same problem when the engine was mounted in the chassis.

Honda had been out of the F1 competition too long and had to re-invent/re-experience everything. They now know what they did wrong and the vibrations they have now, were expected.


Yes I read the article. I also hear your scepticism and thats okay with me. The vibrations do not sound as something they didn’t expect and Suzuka will be a great place to show the progress.

With McLaren, the problems were a lot bigger and not that easy to resolve because McLaren was very demanding on how the engine had to be mounted and the shape & size of the thing.

RB allows Honda to just develop a reliable and powerfull engine, solving the mounting problems when they appear.

With Renault, even their own drivers are starting to get impatient because of the lack of progress.

mem questioned the performance of the Honda engine by comparing TR and RBR and I just pointed out that they cannot be compared. This years TR is not a very good car and it hides the performance of the engine.

We’ll see. I think they will get the 0.5 seconds from the new engine, btw. The simulator even shows a greater benefit for RBR, had they been using the Honda. They would have improved by 0.6 sec/lap (sochi)

What the benefit in Suzuka will be? I don’t know…

I only believe MB and Ferrari will have a problem at their hand next year if Honda delivers what they already get out of the test facilities, performancewise…


Sauber probably if nothing else because of their reliability as mentioned. Yes LeClerc have now been getting better also. But Marcus E has gone under the radar in an incredible way. From Nasr to LeClerc. But good backing can make a huge difference

Anyway I believe that Honda will get it right soon. If not this year then next looks promising. If they get that huge performance gain at Suzuka, it will be very impressive though

How McLaren handled the situation with Honda was just unbelievable. They wasted so much time on what? Ok so Honda wanted to have control and run development much by their own people. Maybe a little ill-advised but they are not idiots over there and if they are in for it long term they will get it right. And as we all know now it was McLaren as much who perfomermed badly. If not even the problem, who knows?. GP2 car I would say. it all looked like ignorance and a lack of understanding how to collaborate with Honda.

McLaren new what they opted for and it was never going to be a PU right out of the box delivering the power required in this kind of formula. It takes years, if even then as we have seen to develope


I blame Zak “Sack” Brown for failing to endure with Honda. What changed with Renault? They at the same place but without huge cash bonus Honda was providing. Alonso, as much as I like him, is also a bit to blame but come on, its racing!


Well alright, valid point, you can’t blame alonso of course for the whole catastrophe, but he exploited it to his own favour to a maximum.

The management should have known what Alonso brings to the table. He’s a racer, overrated if you ask me but he’s good at it. But there was not a need for someone like Alonso. They would have needed someone else another type of driver, peronality whatever. maybe even the opposite of Alonso at that point.

Let’s face it he was there only for pr purpose. He wasn’t going to win anything, development- wise, not really have a past of bringing about good cars. As a pr/ambassador as he was supposed to be I guess, but it was awful.

I can’t understand the pampering they did for him. He was part of destroying that partnership almost from the get go.

Well I could go on about the rest of the crowd there but the legacy might be destroyed forever. Midfield team at best


After scrapping their original design layout they used for the first two years, it’s very impressive how far Honda has improved in reliability and performance. Red Bull should be smiling for next season.



Big rear is the new size zero:) No more need to fit in a good piece of equipment into subzero bodywork


@Chris D

There are pictures of the 2018 Honda PU on display at Suzuka. It’s clear they were awarded some extra room for the intake into the compressor and area around the exhaust headers. I’m sure they saw some nice pumping efficiency gains.


RedBull is looking for a major step forward … they need it actually and so does Honda. The Japanese appear to make good progress and that is promising news for RedBull. Promising and no more than that at this point.


I would have said it’s tough to to call this one. Let’s not forget for all that his Honda upgrade may improve things massively it still nowhere near the level of of a Ferrari PU which Sauber use though Torro Rosso do have a reasonable balanced chassis .It would seem fair to say as well that I think that this could also be decided by who performs better out of Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly as with the greatest respect to Marcus Ericsson and Brendon Hartley you would say on this seasons form are more CL and PG are more likely to be challenging for the points than their team mates.


Rumour has it that the 2019 engine adds another 70 bhp to the car…


More than rumour has it that Honda still don’t know the difference between “promise” and “deliver”…


Honda does not make power gain statements. The press puts out rumors.


Same goes for Renault so no problem there…


It’s not like Ferrari /Merc will find it difficult will not find 40-50 bhp over the winter . Honda will need to find an 100-120bhp to be competive with Merc/Ferrari PU’s . Daniel needs to help Renault turn it around on chassis and engine front.


There’s a rumor floating around that an ex BAR employee working for Mercedes stated the new Honda PU is around 30hp off from the Mercedes PU. Believe what you want, but STR is saying the Honda is now better than the Renault. Honda had two sizeable updates this year, one worth around 0.3s and this one supposedly worth 0.5s. I’d imagine all PU manufacturers will find another 20-30hp over the winter. Honda struggled mightily and then dominated in the past, perhaps history will repeat itself.


In principle it should be easier for Honda to develop that kind of progress than for Mercedes / Ferrari. There is a limit to the power you can get out of these engines and Mercedes / Ferrari are much closer to that limit. So logically their progress should slow down over time.


100% correct ChrisV. The law of diminishing returns


Problem is they have probably been that far down Ferrari this season at leasr and Ferrari I would have thought will find at least another 40-50 hp the off season as will Merc . Merc and Ferrari will still be the best PU’s by next season unless Honda find 100+ bhp over the winter because they have been so far behind up to now.


RBR do not need to have the best engine for them to be able to fight for pole.

Renault spec C is about 55 bhp down on MB and Ferrari. Honda spec 3 has about 30 bhp on the Renault.

Ferrari and MB finding 50, and Honda about 70 bhp during the winter will bring RBR within striking distance of MB and Ferrari.

Furthermore, the Honda seems far more reliable and driveable than the Renault. Dont let the engine changes and grid penalties fool you.


I don’t believe all I read or hear but pick out the rumours that I value as “possible” or “likely”.

Regarding the numbers:

The Renault spec B has about 60/80 bhp deficit towards MB/Ferrari (source: Max/RBR)

The Honda spec B has about 15 bhp deficit towards Renault (source: Max/RBR/TR)

The spec C of Renault brings about 15bhp (source: Renault/RBR)

The spec C of Honda brings about 50bhp (source: Honda/TR/RBR)

2019 engine brings about 70bhp (source: Robert Doornbos, and a birdy)

If you combine all that:

Renault will have a 55 bhp deficit towards MB/Ferrari with the spec C

Honda will have a 35 bhp deficit towards MB/Ferrari with the spec C

That 35 bhp deficit alone would make RBR a contender in the current field.

Maybe Honda won’t deliver the 70 bhp increase in 2019 but I am pretty sure they will close in on MB and Ferrari.

2019 will not be a transition year but RBR will be in the game big time. The amount of effort and money Honda is now pumping into the project is staggering and will produce results.


…are you the Honda PR guy?


Wow…where are getting all that info. You are going far beyond speculation there.


I’m always suspicious of giving credit for upgrades on paper as opposed to on the track; there are so many variables, and it’s not like the other teams will be sitting on their hands and not improving. The conventional wisdom seems to be that Renault and Honda are similar engine wise, but will be very difficult to judge until next season. Both have underperformed since the hybrid era, I wouldn’t be confident with either one in the back of my car.


There is a lot of hope that both Honda and Renault come good next season because there are also a lot of fans getting tired of Hamilton and Mercedes winning.

We should all hope that Honda and Renault catch up. It is better for the sport to have more teams and drivers fighting for wins.


A sensible conclusion .


All this in preparation for the new Red Bull-Honda alliance starting in the Year of Our Lord 2019 – the most intriguing partnership for many a year.

Have Red Bull made a huge error of judgement getting in league with Honda, or a decision of inspired genius???


I’m going for b)


In my mind, it can never be a huge error of judgement. They’ve been working with Renault for many years now and still they haven’t come good. They have their own works team so Red Bull in front is no longer a priority per se. Stick with Renault and it’s again going to be a year of not getting in the mix in Q3, battling for 5th and 6th and sneak a win in in Monaco and perhaps a few more ‘lucky’ races.

On the other hand: go to Honda and worst case you’re still battling for p5/p6, better case you can get in the mix at the front more often, dream-case Honda is so close to Merc/Ferrari in performance that RBR’s chassis can make up for the small deficit and we have a 3 way fight for the title next year.

The real life scenario will probably be somewhere in the middle but one has to consider the long term as well. With Renault, there is no long term, at least not in the back of a Red Bull.


I keep saying that Honda will get it right and I keep on getting proved wrong…so in the spirit of a total lack of data based optimism over an awful lot of recent historical data….I’m sure Honda will get it right next season

91 least you can cut and paste Tom! 🙂


50/50 at the moment GazBoy on whether it’s a blunder or a hit out the park 🏏
Apparently there are mutterings about the new engine that it is better than the latest Renault engine. Whether it has the durability of the other engines …Well only time will tell.


If I have read correctly RB believes this partnership is their last throw of the dice in terms of getting back to Championship level again. With Renault they probably would not get there but as a “works” Team, if Honda come good then they will too. If Honda does not work out, they will probably pull out. RB probably believe that after a year or so they will at worst be on par with Renault, and at best, much better. So, a calculated decision which may, or may not come off, but worth taking?

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