Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Red Bull has achieved “best engine installation” with Honda

2019 F1 season

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says the team has achieved a much better installation of its new Honda power unit for the 2019 F1 season than it was able to with previous supplier Renault.

Speaking to RaceFans and other media during today’s first test at the Circuit de Catalunya, Horner said the team’s new power unit is an improvement in “all aspects.”

“Ultimately power is a dominating factor but I have to say the installation of this engine into the chassis is probably the best one we’ve ever had. When you look at how neatly integrated it is into the chassis it a really is a thing of beauty and I think the whole engineering team collectively with Honda have done a great job in terms of installing what looks like a Swiss clock into into the back of our chassis.”

Horner described the team’s alliance with Honda as a “true partnership as opposed to a customer-supplier relationship” and explained how the team is receiving a higher level of support than it is used to.

“We already saw from Toro Rosso last year that you know great progress was made and of course our decision was based on what we could see and measure. And I have to say so far we’ve been very impressed with everything that we’ve seen. It’s the first time in 12 years that our factory’s had four complete engines. That’s not happened before.”

The team is prepared to accept the possibility of taking engine penalties during the season to help advance Honda’s development rate. “You saw in previous years that you pick the penalties at the right venues,” said Horner.

“I think in Russia last year Max [Verstappen] was already back in the top the top five by lap six. So if you pick the right venue if it’s assisting the development of the power unit then strategically you can can lessen the pain.”

However Horner is wary Honda’s rivals won’t have stood still over the winter. “I think Honda have had a good winter so far and definitely they are reducing that gap significantly but of course what you don’t know as you go through the winter is what have the others done,” he said. “If they found another 50 kilowatts then we’ve got a big issue.

“But we’ve been very impressed with the approach of Honda and the progress that they’ve made. For us it’s a vital piece of the jigsaw in order to get us into a competitive position not just for this year but next year and potentially beyond.”

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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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31 comments on “Red Bull has achieved “best engine installation” with Honda”

  1. Don’t make it look like a compliment Christian, we all know that engine was made for your car, fitting properly was the minimum required.

    Now go and get some laps in, until then go have a meeting with Toto I hear he needs someone to talk to

    1. Don’t make it sound like they just had to have 4 nuts be able to properly tighten down on 4 bolts, lol.

      1. Well said!

      2. I should be more enthusiastic when the best engineers in the world managed to fit an engine into a car shouldn’t I?

      3. Horner is making it sound like the Renault was this big cumbersome engine whereas the Honda is a beautifully engineered piece of equipment. The truth is that if you design an engine specifically for a car, you’d expect it to fit better than one you bought off the shelf.

        1. You’re exaggerating Horner’s implication toward Renault, and you are downplaying the beautiful picture he is trying to portray of a complex pu integration he is highly impressed with, likely in all honesty. He is referrring to something that is so much more than ‘fitment.’ Not sure why Horner’s ‘truth’ needs be discarded. He has made me want to see the gem of engineering he’s excited about. He is obviously already seeing the advantage of being a team that is closer to functioning in the necessary-these-days works format. He is seeing something that is not a Renault after so long, and is impressed by what he sees from Honda. Simple.

          1. @robbie

            Not sure Horners ‘truth’ needs be discarded. He has made me want to see the gem of engineering he’s excited about. He is obviously already seeing the advantage of being a team that is closer to functioning in the necessary-these-days works format. He is seeing something that is not a Renault after so long, and is impressed by what he sees from Honda.

            When I was young we took ‘substances’ and we seen lots of things…then we woke up and seen the truth haha. No in fact he is having another dig at Renault, wait for part two from Verstappen.

          2. @johnrkh Call it a dig if you want, they are also making an observation. So far they seem happier with the potential that this new marriage brings. I’m sure every time they compliment Honda someone will take that as a dig against Renault. At some point they might actually just be complimenting Honda, and be chuffed at this new chapter and what might unfold for them.

            And if there is going to be a part two from Max, I suspect it will be because he will be asked by media ad infinitum to compare his new Honda Pu to the Renault that he had, you know, because they really want to know, and not at all because they really want him to make it sound like he is running Renault down with his every compliment towards Honda.

          3. Horner’s “truth” should always come with a packet of salt and a disclaimer. He whined about the V8 Renault engine being under-powered — and it won more races than any other V8. He whined about Renault so badly they made him change the name of the engine to Tag-Heuer.

            He has almost as much credibility as Marko.

          4. @robbie

            And if there is going to be a part two from Max,

            Looks like I got the order out of sync…Gasly was next cab of the rank.

            ’ Not sure why Horner’s ‘truth’ needs be discarded

            The Trumpian term ‘Alternate facts’ is probably the better way of describing Horners comments. And I’d say because he is a bit loose with the truth.

  2. …what looks like a Swiss clock into into the back of our chassis.

    Made me think of the gold wristwatch monologue from Pulp Fiction.

  3. I would take anything Christian Horner has to say with a pinch of salt right now.

    Let’s see what he’s got to say mid-season if/when Red Bull are beginning to feel the pain of multiple engine failures and the resultant penalties…

    1. (P.S. It’s a shame that last week’s Red Bull livery was just a one-off. It looked fantastic and would’ve helped define the Honda-era.)

    2. They knew it will happen when they signed up. Its a longer game they are interested.

  4. “ … . When you look at how neatly integrated it is into the chassis it a really is a thing of beauty and I think the whole engineering team collectively with Honda have done a great job in terms of installing what looks like a Swiss clock into into the back of our chassis.”

    Is it just me or do these comments sound eerily similar to Ron Dennis’ “the Honda engine is like a piece of jewellery” comments ahead of the 2015 season…

    1. They do, but unlike McLaren, the Honda engine actually hasn’t completely contradicted the compliments showered on it on day 1 of testing :)

  5. The engine fits and runs. Expectations exceeded!

    It’s the first time in 12 years that our factory’s had four complete engines. That’s not happened before.

    You’re gonna need all of them just to get through this week, christian.

  6. Didn’t TR have a new engine each day for last years testing, wonder if they’ll be doing same?

    1. That’s why they have 4 engines from Honda for a 4 day test I reckon 🤣

  7. Hoping for the best for the team and Honda. I’d love to see this become the engine to have.

    1. Not a fan of Redbull (or indeed any of their management) so personally I would like to see them face the same issues McLaren had just so Horner wouldn’t be such a smug muppet :-)

      1. That you’re a fan or not, unless you’re a fan of a team always winning, we NEED a strong red bull, if you let ferrari try alone to stop mercedes we’re in for decades of mercedes winning!

        1. Nah I don’t think so. Personally, if you insist that we need another team/teams strong to knock Merc of their perch, I’d rather see McLaren, Renault, Alfa, heck, anybody other than Redbull fullfilling the role.

  8. This strikes me as an “if you can’t say anything nice” kind of comment. If Horner is wary of power or reliability, complimenting the engine’s integration in the chassis is about all he can do, particularly this early in the partnership.

    We’ll see in Melbourne, I suppose.

    1. So true.

      Horner “oh it fits BEAUTIFULLY in the chassis” = subtext “no idea if it’s any good or not though.” :D

    2. Why can’t he compliment the integration, and be happy about their power and reliabiltiy levels so far, at the same time? It is a fact that integration of Pu and chassis is crucial as proven by the only success coming from works teams in this hybrid era. The better the integration the better the chances for success for the Pu and the overall package nose to tail.

  9. @robbie

    Why can’t he compliment the integration, and be happy about their power and reliabiltiy levels so far, at the same time?

    They have had a good amount of time to redesign the chassis with Honda to integrate the engine, kudos to them for not putting it in upside down. As far as being happy about the power and reliability of the PU after one day? No, all taken with a grain of salt. The real tests start on the 17th March.
    Good luck to them.

    1. @johnrkh Yes, yes, another shot at Horner’s integration comment. How original. As I said, ‘so far’ CH should be happy. He loves how they have integrated the Pu, and on day one they had some pace and reliability. They weren’t last in the timing, and they racked up many many laps. They won’t be taking that as a grain of salt. That’s what I would call a good day for a day one. Yes of course everyone’s true test starts in Australia, but the building up to that started yesterday, and so far things could have been way worse for RBR.

      1. @robbie

        How original

        Thank you :)

  10. What bizarre comments – I wonder how long some of the above commenters have been interested in F1? It seems to me that one of the most recurrent themes when it comes to teams talking about the design phase of the car, is how critical the installation is to making the car work as one cohesive unit. Having known people working within customer teams, I know that as a customer you essentially get the PU in its pre-defined configuration, on a pallet ready to bolt in. The onus is then on the team to create the car around it. As a result the installation is always a compromise – your aerodynamicists can’t create aero concepts with absolute freedom because the shape of the car rear of the bulkhead is so hugely influenced by the installation of the PU.

    What Horner is saying is not that the bolt holes all lined up, but rather Honda worked very closely with RBR to customise the installation of the PU into as neat a package as possible. This will include all the ancillary parts; engine cooling, turbocharger, charge/intercooling, electrical systems, and so on. These are the bits which really define whether, for instance, you can give designers the freedom to create an optimised shape to the sidepod – something which is mandated as much by the things you need to pack inside it as the technical restrictions on the dimensions.

    Mercedes HPP for instance do provide their customers which a PU spec which is essentially the same as the one in the back of the Mercedes AMG car – as well packaged as that car is. But the problem is that the PU installation, the design of the ancillaries, is optimised around the Mercedes aero concept; something not known by the customers. If Mercedes have decided not to have a high level inlet for their sidepod, then the customer team needs to work around a PU not designed in a way which matches their requirements. This is the devil in the detail to which Horner is alluding – not that the Renault was terrible, but rather the Renault was delivered in a configuration which meant RBR had to make big compromises to their aero design in order to make it work. Apparently Honda have been absolutely accommodating, and as a result the RBR car is a much more cohesive package as a result. Even with not notable improvement in power over the Renault PU, this would deliver performance improvements to the overall package which they wouldn’t have been able to accomplish as a customer.

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