Toro Rosso-Honda, Interlagos, 2018

“Very powerful” Honda could make Red Bull contenders – Wolff

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In the round-up: Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says Honda’s improved power unit could make Red Bull stronger contenders this year.

What they say

Asked late last year whether Red Bull will be more competitive with Honda power, Wolff also said he expected the new front wing rules for the 2019 F1 season will make the biggest difference to how competitive the teams are compared to last year:

Yeah it could well be because we have seen there is no more pattern any more. There is not one team that dominates one kind of circuit. It has changed and Honda’s engine certainly looks very powerful now.

But I think that the biggest impact will be the completely new aerodynamic regulations. That will change everything upside down. Somebody might find a loophole or a regulation or understand how these cars work earlier than others so I think there is a big, big variable in those new regulations. We will have teams right up there that are not on the radar today.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

@Bosyber says Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul is right to keep a lid on the team’s expansion as F1’s budget cap looms:

I usually get sceptical when Abiteboul starts talking, but saying “look we are there now, do not force us to go irresponsible by making it last even longer” is smart.

Exactly because given the big teams have already been able to get an extension for the final cap, smart for Renault, which currently (goshn thing) isn’t in a position to increase budget, to turn that weakness into pressure on the other side.

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On this day in F1

  • 25 years ago today Benetton announced JJ Lehto would be Michael Schumacher’s new team mate with Jos Verstappen joining the team as test driver

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  • 41 comments on ““Very powerful” Honda could make Red Bull contenders – Wolff”

    1. I liked the idea of having Renault as one of big four establishment. The race winner of Formula 1.5 need only to finish at 9th.

    2. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
      14th January 2019, 7:14

      Marko sounds a little salty.

    3. Max has improved, undoubtedly, but he’s yet to have a champions season. There’s a pretty big cloud hanging over the RBR & STR camps at the moment… and if things don’t go to plan camp Verstappen will be looking for any exit they can.
      I just don’t understand why Marko is intent on burning the bridge to Ric. He’s a known quantity for the team, a proven race winner with the alent to bring home a world championship. Salty indeed.

      1. When is Marko not salty? :)

        1. How is Marko burning a bridge when he is simply stating facts and furthermore they offered DR everything he asked for and he still decided to leave? Should it be any surprise he’s talking up Max?

          1. Should it be any surprise you’re still talking up the Red Bull empire…? ;-)
            You always say: “…they offered DR everything he asked for…” How do you KNOW this…? And I feel sure they would not have offered him No.1 status – which is perhaps a/the major reason for his departure…
            But I’m not surprised he’s talking up Max, because they have always tended to talk down anyone who chooses to leave…!
            I don’t understand why you always ‘bite’, on this topic.

            1. @BlackJackFan Touched a nerve did I? First of all I believe DR himself said that he was offered everything he had asked for and I doubt Horner would lie about that for it would be easy for DR to deny that or tell us differently. Have you had any reason to think DR was being shorted in his requests? Secondly, I doubt DR is the quality of driver that just expects a number one status to be given to him (this isn’t MS/Ferrari we’re talking about) and rather he would expect to have to earn that. Not to mention when a team isn’t vying for the Championships there is little use designating a status on a driver when they need both advancing the car. Thirdly Marko is hardly talking down DR but rather stating the facts as we all saw, and talking up the megastar driver that chose to stay and indeed approached them to do just that back in 2017, this showing his commitment. And I think we all got the picture plain and clear that RBR were sad to see DR go and would much preferred if he had stayed.

              Why do I always ‘bite’ on this topic? Why do you? For me I am a Max fan so I am engaged with things about him and about RBR, and as with many topics there is a lot of silly rhetoric in the opinions towards Max and Horner and Marko around here.

      2. Marko is always ready to talk down whoever is not on ‘his’ team – even if the driver/engine is technically part of the Red Bull team – this is just him being his usual self.

      3. Marko never says nice things about departing drivers, and there’s something about that extra “al” in Australian that he can’t quite cope with.

    4. Marco is not salty, he’s a brutally honest old man, all he did was point facts, and what he said is clear as day today anyone that follows F1.
      And no one understood this better then Ric did, he was looking for a way out of Red Bull as soon as the season started. He wanted Ferrari or Merc, but got Renault.
      This season things would got even worst and Ric would have to be a clear number 2 driver to Max by mid season, and Ric didn’t want that.
      That’s why this season is the most interesting in over a decade, so many changes on the grid that it will really test allot of drivers.

      1. Seasons ebb and flow, last season RIC was cost a huge amount of points through technical issues. As soon as the season started you say? After Monaco RIC was seen as WDC outsider, VER was no where… You’re right, Marko is always salty, but it’s been a long time between championships for the RBR squad, with an empty ammo box of upcoming talent I would think they might try and keep a decent relationship with their outgoing driver.

        1. Yes as soon as the season started, and winning 2 races in the first 6 and max struggling for consistency was the perfect storm, and that upped his value for Ferrari and Mercedes, but they didn’t sign him. And after Monaco when max iron out some problems it was clear to see that Max was the faster driver, and if Ric stayed in the same team as him his chances of a world title would be slim.
          He probably reckoned that at Ferrari or even Mercedes his chances would improve.
          But to his misfortune only Renault was interested, and with a great paycheck he didn’t say no

      2. (@mfalcao) I’m a brutally honest old man, you and Marko are wrong.
        Verstappen is a good driver, very fast but he has poor judgment under pressure…like his father. The Okon incident and his actions in the next race highlight that.
        I hope Renault builds on what they have next yr, I also hope Honda improves. We’ll see in the first few races, also we’ll see how the drivers react if things don’t quite work out.

          1. I think it is a mistake to assume Max will always have ‘poor judgement under pressure’ for he has a long career ahead of him, nor that he is going to be ‘like his father’ and that is somehow written in stone.

        1. GtisBetter (@)
          14th January 2019, 17:25

          You don’t win multiple GP’s in a RB if you have poor judgement under pressure, or qualify that good on a regular basis. He has a driving style which needs some adjusting, but it has also won him GP’s and yes, he did had some bad calls, but every driver had those this season if you look closely. Except Lewis, which is why he is WC.

          1. LH certainly made little mistakes. On the other hand that is logical if you can qualify top 3 because of party mode. MV needed to battle more with an underpowered car. MV will make viewer mistakes when he has the power in quali.

        2. People tend to forget he is only 21, and is still improving as a racing driver. But he’s already at a level that puts Ric way behind him.

    5. I hope so although I doubt it. Toto has interesting points there.

      I agree with Chandhok in principle although predicting the full pecking order for next season isn’t as easy due to the changes to the front wing design, and other car-affecting changes.

      I share the same views as the COTD.

      Crashtappen strikes again. Max playing bumper cars in virtual reality, LOL.
      Oh well, at least, in virtual reality no one can get physically hurt. Just imagine if he had done that to Ocon when he re-caught him a few laps later following their infamous T2 collision.

      1. I forgot to add: Lucas Di Grassi’s tweet, though.

      2. If Ocon ever get the chance to win a GP (which chances are almost zero) Ves will give him his payback for sure.

        1. Sad though it is, I actually believe you are correct and that is how Max thinks.

          1. Just look at the way he overtook ocon in abu dhabi, that’s some pay back already.

    6. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      14th January 2019, 10:41

      Hankering for some dessert after the excellent Formula E main course on Saturday, I tuned in to the F3 Asian Winter Series, fully expecting the overqualified Dan Ticktum (who’s slumming it back in F3 because winning the series will get him over the superlicence berth for 2019) to blow away the competition away, and was pleasantly surprised for the sake of the racing to find he didn’t.
      With his multiple Macau wins and an excellent F3 campaign, there is no doubting this kid is talented, but not for the first time he displayed an immature, superior attitude, that makes it really hard to get behind him.
      Swearing at the Asian interviewer, blaming his opponents and the FIA for his poor weekend, and unsportingly leaving the podium in a childish huff, rather than spray the champagne with his less established competitors, all left a bad impression.
      I really hope he can sand off these rough edges before moving up the ladder further, because with his obvious talent I want to support the guy, but as it stands I think there is a danger that his abrasive personality will lead to people shouting for ABT (Anybody But Ticktum)

      1. It seems Ticktum really has a hard time sorting out this kind of attitude.

      2. At that point I just hope he doesn’t get any further with this spoilt child attitude. And he’s got less and less excuses with the time passing. So I’m in the ABT camp until he can quit this. And at some point he will be an embarrassment for Red Bull even if it experience some shortage in its young talent programme.

    7. Whatever Toto. Shocking, professional downplayer downplays again.

      Whatever Marko. Congratulations on retaining one of the most hot-headed drivers since Maldonado. Can’t wait for the VER-GAS fireworks.

    8. Thanks @astonmartin for the hook up, loving it!

      Don’t forget they want that car washed and polished every week!

      14th January 2019, 18:58

      Does Wolff have to privately console the Mercedes engineers every time he says Ferrari and Honda are better at their jobs?

    10. Totto Wolff insulting his engineers claiming Ferrari and Honda are doing a better job. F1 Weirdness.

    11. Fans & people in F1 have totally forgot what F1 is supposed to be. It isn’t supposed to be about equal performance, Multiple winners, close competition or close, competitive & engaging title fights. It’s about making a car, having an engine & winning more than your rivals.

      People hate on Mercedes for doing what there supposed to be doing which is winning & dominating & it’s frankly pathetic and shows just how little modern ‘fans’ actually know about what the sport they claim to be a fan of is actually about.

      All the ‘equalization’ of performance and attempts to cripple the best teams just so those lower down can catch up is so far in the opposite direction to what the sport is supposed to be about that I don’t even think you can consider the F1 of today to be F1 anymore & looking at all the talk going forward I think in 2021 it will be nothing more than Indycar+ pretending to be F1. All this talk about close racing, overtaking & all this is just as bad because that is not, never has been & should never be what the primary purpose of the sport of formula one grand prix is about and again the fact modern ‘fans’ think that is it’s purpose shows just how little they know.

      The greats of the past must be rolling in there graves.

      1. @Peter Gareth First of all, you are making a blanket statement about fans, and I’m sure you are well aware they are many, and varied. And always have been. You are defining F1 by your personal opinion of what it should be, when in fact, as one example, teams that have dominated for a run of years have always had the rules changed to try to upset their domination and give someone else a try. Even diehard fans of the type you would prefer, tire of one team always winning.

        I agree that passing should be relatively rare and special in F1, but that doesn’t preclude close racing, close competition. DRS simply does not belong in F1. But what we have had in this current chapter is one team that had their advantage locked in by new regs that were meant to keep spending on engines/pus in check via tokens which had the side effect of helping Mercedes stay on top for this long.

        They’re only talking about a little more equalization, and a little bit of an attempt to ‘cripple’ the top teams now (but nothing draconian as you want to make it sound) because of the excessive power that BE placated the top teams with in his last decade in F1. That was not how it always was in F1.

        You are criticizing F1 for not being how it ‘should’ be based on your opinion, when many people would say change is needed bigtime, not just because of the current era’s unique problems, but because this is now and this is not ten or twenty or thirty years ago. Things have changed a great deal globally in many aspects since then.

        Personally I’m not fine with F1 as it currently is, and look forward to what Liberty plans…a little less power and money to the top teams, and little more help for the lesser teams, no drs, less dirty air effect, closer racing between drivers and between teams. None of that has to nor does mean a spec series, nor a million passes per race just for the sake of quantity. What Liberty wants to do if anything is to improve the racing and the health of the entity for the long haul. Nothing Liberty has talked about should make us fear for F1 and it’s roots. The opposite. F1 has gotten out of hand thanks to BE/CVC’s parting moves over his last 10 years in F1. Liberty has a great chance to bring things back into perspective, and the teams seem fairly on board with that concept. They know what F1 has been in recent years is not sustainable. If the greats of the past are rolling in their graves it is because of drs, and tokens, and terrible tires, and drivers as passengers monitoring systems and being told what lap times to drive to meet a computer model while following in processions while ruining tires that can’t handle being in someone’s dirty air. Things do need to change to some degree. And those changes are only tweeks away.

    12. I know toto likes to downplay Mercedes’ form, and talk up competition in an attempt to paint an exciting prospect for the fans, but Honda has a “very powerful” engine?!? Heck.. No one in the paddock is afraid of Honda.. Except for the drivers who actually drive their cars.

      Lmao… Maybe someone needs to tell Toto that 1st April is still a few months away.

      1. @todfod Indeed, there is a kind of a pattern with Toto always downplaying Mercedes’ chances despite crushing victories year after year. One day he will be right but nobody will listen anymore when constantly doing the boy who cried Wolff (ha ha).

        1. @todfod Well it’s not like TW is claiming Honda is now the new benchmark amongst F1 PUs. He is putting more emphasis on the new front wings as being a game changer, not that I am expecting that either.

          1. @robbie

            The he shouldn’t have said –

            It has changed and Honda’s engine certainly looks very powerful now.

            I actually feel insulted by Toto’s statements. Like we’re a bunch of fools who didn’t see Honda run through 10 engines on each car and still finished last in terms on terms of engine performance.

            1. @todfod Still not seeing what is to be insulted about. TW knows we all have seen Honda’s poor reliability throughout the recent years, and he is not claiming they are now reliable too. He is not the only one to claim Honda has more power now, and what they haven’t proven and what TW diplomatically doesn’t bring up is their unreliability, or…perhaps he is aware that STR and Honda did a lot of engine changes for R&D and not because they had a failure.

    13. If the season starts how it ended RB only needs a couple of tenths on the straights to beat them all. Sooo curious, cannot wait. Then Ham doesn’t have to ask the team where Ves is anymore. It is front of him. ;-)

    14. Oh no, Mercedes PU demote to 3rd best?
      1st – Ferrari
      2nd – Honda
      3rd – Mercedes
      4th – Renault

      By 2020 Mercedes PU will be last in terms of horsepower, according to Toto lottery prediction.

    15. If Wolff is talking up Honda, they are going to have a very bad year.

    16. Clickbait but I’ll play.

      “Very powerful Honda” being the least powerful, least fuel efficient, least reliable on the grid. Yeah nice one Toto.

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