Honda, Singapore, 2018

Honda development accelerates as Renault fear they’re being out-spent

2018 F1 season

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Honda says it is developing its power unit at a faster rate than before while Renault admit they are being out-spent by their rivals.

Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost claimed Honda’s new ‘spec three’ power unit, which was raced for the first time at Suzuka, moved them ahead of Renault in the development race. Speaking before the Japanese Grand Prix, Honda’s general manager of its motorsport division Mashashi Yamamoto said they are making quicker progress in the fourth year of their return to F1.

“This season we were not as quick in the development as we would have wanted to,” said Yamamoto. “However, recently, everything has been much better, especially regarding the combustion chamber. We have upgraded it, and it’s finally complete, and very successfully complete.”

The spec three power unit was introduced in Russia but not raced as Honda had to address calibration problems. These were not entirely fixed in time for the race in Japan, where the team had to revert to an earlier configuration shortly before the race.

Red Bull will switch from Renault to Honda power next year. Team principal Christian Horner praised the Japanese manufacturer’s gains.

“It’s obvious that progress, and good progress, is being made and that’s really encouraging for us,” he said. “Our focus is not on where our current position is. It’s where the lead position is. That’s the same goal that Honda share. Inroads are being made to reduce that gap to the benchmark in Formula 1.

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“You need all elements to be performing to win in this sport, and of course the engine is a key element. We’re looking very much forward to 2019 and starting this relationship with Honda.”

Honda’s gains are a cause for concern at Renault, managing director Cyril Abiteboul admitted.

“Honda, as we’ve seen since last year, it was already very clear, is making big steps, big gains,” he said. “Red Bull has been very clear that they are investing massively, massively, probably and apparently much more than us.”

However Abiteboul says he remains confident in Renault’s development plan. “We are happy for Red Bull and Honda. Frankly we have our way to do things.

“We have a plan and we are executing that plan. It’s not just about arms race. We have all the aspects of the package to develop. No one is providing anything to us, either in the power train or on the chassis, so it has to be step by step. We are very confident in our upgrade for next year. We want to play the long term game.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 33 comments on “Honda development accelerates as Renault fear they’re being out-spent”

    1. Still no new spec Renault which would be normal to continue the winter with. The development is so slow i think that why Red Bull swap engines as Honda keep planning multiple specs during the year.

      Sometimes i don’t understand Renault the live for technical progression?

    2. “We have a big upgrade coming for this race, it should be worth several tenths per lap.” – Renault

      *renault powered cars break down in practice and are slower in speed traps. Some teams revert back to previous spec engine for race*

      “It was a good step. We learned a lot. Big improvement. We were surprised about the step Ferrari and Mercedes made. They lasted every practice session and the whole race! That’s crazy!”

      – Renault

    3. “We have a plan and we are executing that plan. It’s not just about arms race. We have all the aspects of the package to develop. No one is providing anything to us, either in the power train or on the chassis, so it has to be step by step. We are very confident in our upgrade for next year. We want to play the long term game.”

      That’s good, Cyril. Get your excuses for 2019 in bright and early!

    4. We want to play the long term game

      Sure is a very long game at Renault, lets not forget this Hybrid era began in 2014! They are no closer than they were back in 2014 and most likely will be the worst PU on the grid next year. Chassis wise the progress is also painstakingly slow. Does not look good for Danny Ric which is sad

      1. Yes, the only one I’d be sorry about with an uncompetitive renault next year is ricciardo cause he’s a very good driver, however a very good driver would fit red bull together with verstappen, not saying gasly is bad, he’s unproven in a top team, just saying ricciardo, considering his goal to fight for a title sooner than later, took a very risky choice, a natural huge step backwards if renault doesn’t improve massively.

    5. I really like Honda so I’m really hopeful this is all good news for next year, but I kinda remember what they were like when they were last in F1 – they spent and spent until they could spend no more and then left just as everything was coming together. F1 needs closer competition between the manufacturers really, so if Honda can close the gap to Mercedes/Ferrari that would be a huge achievement and an enormous positive.

      1. I think they will close the gap to Merc Ferrari next year. We have to remember that Honda developed a flawed engine concept up to 2016, and had too start from scratch very late for 17, that cost them massively in reliability and optimization, and with no help from the McLaren front it was a nightmare last season for both of them.
        Honda are clearly ahead of Renault by now, the new engine is mote powerful then spec c Renault, and it still lacks allot of optimization, just like spec 2 reached its peak at monza and spa, races they were expected to struggle allot, and did very well.
        With a couple more weeks of optimization this next rounds will show the real state of the engine this time around.

        1. If Honda are clearly ahead of Renault then how was Sainz able to easily pass and pull away from Gasly, who ended up 11th and Hartley 13th (with Alonso breathing down Hartley’s back over the last laps). Always excuses with no results.

          The Honda’s did well in qualifying but so far it has been the same old story – they talk about how great of gains they have made but end up outside the top ten most of the time.

          Honda damn well better have an engine at least more powerful and reliable than Renault next year, especially considering their unlimited budget. We’ve seen how short the fuses of the golden child, his papa and Marko are. If they think Alonso was critical…..
          Good luck!

          1. Simple Sauber had a brilliant strategy to ruin Toro Rosso tires, and very bad strategy by Toro rosso.
            Did you see the race? First stint Gasly was only behind Grosjean, and keeping the force Indias behind with relative ease, then the second stint was a disaster because Sauber did a brilliant job at ruining there tires, and Sainz was the biggest winner. Even with a badly calibrated engine Toro rosso was very competitive at a track they usually do bad.

    6. We have a plan and we are executing that plan.

      He means they had a plan and failed to execute it entirely…

      We’ve heard they pulled forward their 5 year plan last year and massively increased investment because they couldn’t wait til 2020, yet recently their new head engineer or whatever said it’s a joke and there’s no way they’ll get anywhere before 2020, more like 2022… As of last year he said 2018 would be their last building year and they should be ready to challenge the leaders, yet they are only 8 points ahead of Haas and would be trounced by Force India if not for their entry being cancelled. They don’t even have the confidence to use their engine upgrades because they aren’t able to get the required mileage out of them.

      What is the plan he’s supposedly executing really? Is this the plan? What a joke… Might as well pull his quotes out of thin air, they’d be just as accurate as his predictions and plans.

      1. I remain as sceptical about them as you seem to be @skipgamer. We’ve been hearing they were almost there as often as we’ve heard that this is the year Ferrari are going to win the title the last 5 years!

        I can fully understand that they are talking the talk – surely with Red Bull coming in the pressure will be at least as big as with McLaren signing up to the Honda partnership – but we’ll see. As for Renault, well yeah, they haven’t ever been really able to bring the goods ever since 2014, although I guess they might be holding a few things back for now so as not to give Red Bull too much information too soon.

    7. Probably Renault were worried because Verstappen criticised their engine…

    8. I shouldn’t worry Cyril. It’s easy to get more power out of an engine if it only has to last one race like Hondas do. I’m sure there will be new engines in the back of the TorroRosso’s for the next race as is the norm.

      1. Yeah and Renault have been the paragon of reliability

    9. ”We want to play the long term game.”
      – Isn’t that more or less what they’ve been doing ever since the beginning of the Hybrid era, though?

    10. Flap me as a Renault fan Cyril just continues to utterly disappoint at every turn.

      Whoever is running the show at Renault has a serious case of denial!

      Gutwrenching stuff…..

    11. Renault are being “out-everything’d”. Soon to be the wooden spoon power unit unless they up their game. Very unlike Renault. Poor old McLaren really can’t be in the right place at the right time these days.

      1. One could argue that the gains and improvements to catch the leading edge will be easier to achieve than when you do get to the leading edge. Once you get to the leading edge there’s far less ability to make gains because most of the changes you could make loose will result in less power.
        Honda said they’ve finally got their combustion chamber sorted out, suggesting their rate of development will slow down as they believe they’ve reached the leading edge in that regard.
        Abiteboul’s comment of “Frankly we have our way to do things…. No one is providing anything to us, either in the power train or on the chassis, so it has to be step by step. We are very confident in our upgrade for next year…” is interesting because it seems to suggest they believe their next generation engine is around the corner, and that too will be at the leading edge.
        Noting that “leading edge” is a subjective concept, so each engine manufacturer has their own interpretation of it.

        1. @drycrust Abiteoul also claimed that their C-Spec power unit was going to propel them ahead of Ferrari and Mercedes. Yet once they introduced it, they proudly claimed that it was an improvement of 0.3s, which is good and all, but even before the upgrade, the difference between the top two and Renault was in the region of 0.6%-0.9%.

    12. I sense the Honda bashing is easing , now, we need someone else to flog, uhm, how……..about– ,,,,Renault !!!!!!

    13. Bjornar Simonsen
      16th October 2018, 12:21

      “We want to play the long term game” for Renault means that by developing slower than anyone else, they’ll eventually be ahead of them. Seems entirely rational.

      1. Exactly. Everyone but McLaren & Williams will be ahead of them next year if they continue on this path. So I expect them to finally double down next year and put in the money to compete. Too much investments done already to call it quits now.

    14. I’m amused at the shade being thrown at Renault right now, when we haven’t even seen the new Honda engine in action. Red Bull isn’t going to be as accommodating or collaborative as STR have been this year, and I expect McLaren-level demands when it comes to updates and chassis integration. If Red Bull aren’t matching their old Golden Boy Danny’s performance by the end of , Dr. Marko and Mr. Horner will be dropping subtle hints about shopping for a new power unit. If they aren’t comprehensively beating Renault by mid-2020, they’ll commence with the public mud-slinging that they’re famous for.

      1. @sundark – I agree. The Honda PU didn’t exactly drive away at Suzuka on race day, after all the hype it received prior to race day (and in qualy). I’d wait to see how it performs some more before ringing the death knell for the Renault PU.

      2. The difference is McLaren said to Honda, build the engine this way, and red bull was told by Honda, this is the engine we are building do you guys want it?.
        There’s a big difference in there, instead of Honda having to adapt the engine to the McLaren chassis, it’s gonna be Red Bull adapting there chassis to set the engine.
        I’m amazed at people thinking this is going to be a repeat of the McLaren years. Almost everything is different, Red Bull are a very demanding customer? Of course they are, and that’s what drives people to improve there product.
        In Suzuka the new engine wasn’t ready, but was already more powerful then the previous spec, and these last races are clearly in season testing sessions, we will see in these next few races what the engine is capable of with allot more integration with the Toro Rosso chassis

        1. @mfalcao I agree. Was set to say similar things as you have. Let’s recall that RBR and Renault have had quite a long relationship. I see no reason to think suddenly RBR have the patience of gnats. And as if they are incapable of learning from their Renault experience, the experience Honda has, not just in F1 but with Mac, and from this season with the STR/Honda. And let’s not forget the Newey factor.

          No, rather than impatience I think they are likely all chuffed at the new opportunity and challenge and will continue to be so up to and beyond the real new chapter for everyone, which will be 2021 and beyond.

    15. Renault sometimes lack the ambition required to be champions, i recall an interview with Abiteboul earlier in the season where he said their target for 2018 was to beat McLaren. So, the Renault F1 Management must be content that their 2018 goals have been achieved.

    16. I can’t understand those who continue to pillory the RBR hierarchy given how poor Renault’s development has been, especially since the commencement of they Hybrid era.

      Cyril continues to suggest that there’s no hurry to develop and that “they have a plan” while they seem to be making no gain nor bringing any meaningful development to their PU.

      Frankly if I was a paying customer I’d be seriously questioning their commitment to F1. What makes it worse is they actually have their own team and seem to have only moderate aspiration no for that.

      Hopefully 2019/20 might see some evidence of a “plan” – they surely couldn’t have conned Dan Ric on false promises could they?

      1. @dbradock Fair comment and I would say that DR is amongst those most intimate with the promises from Renault in the past, so no, not a con…DR is doing this eyes wide open. Hopefully he can play an active role in helping the team evolve.

    17. We are happy for Red Bull and Honda

      said Cyril Abiteboul, weeping uncontrollably as he took his Max Verstappen posters down from the wall.

    18. So spend more…. duh.

    19. The definition of real KARMA for Maclaren as Alonso put it. It’s a shame for Maclaren how far they are to winning a championship and Honda gaining so much in a span of a year.

    20. I think Renault should threaten to quit producing engines unless the playing field is leveled out.
      All manufacturers should be on a budget – simple.
      After all, what is in for Renault to stick around if the big three have such an advantage?
      I don’t understand why or how Renault, McLaren, Williams or the other “filler” teams even stay in F1.
      They are losing their @$$e$. What’s in it for them?
      F1 is a farce.

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