Pierre Gasly, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Horner denies reports of vibration problems with Honda power unit

2019 F1 season

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has firmly denied claims the team has experienced vibration problems with its Honda power units.

Responding to reports vibration problems have preventing the team from running their engines at full power, Horner told RaceFans: “There’s absolutely no vibration issue that we encountered at all in any of the running. So I’m not quite sure where that’s come from.”

The team is using Honda power for the first time this year. Horner said they have been able to successfully integrate the RA619H into its chassis because of the knowledge it gained when Toro Rosspo ran the Japanese manufacturer’s engines last year.

“Red Bull Technology, having dealt with the integration of the drivetrain with Toro Rosso during the last year, had a pretty decent knowledge of what to expect,” he said.

“The working relationship with Honda and communication has been strong. The integration of the engine into the chassis and drivetrain has been one of the best, if not the best, that I’ve seen we’ve been able to do. So it’s a very neat package.”

Horner also confirmed the team has experimented with running a low-downforce trim on its car during the test.

“We were running a bit lighter in downforce earlier in the week. But it’s obviously all about understanding these rules, these regs.

“The car’s hitting the targets that we’ve set. As as we always see at this time of year it’s too easy to get sucked into other people’s business. We’re very much focused on what we’re doing and our own program. And so far everything is running to plan.”

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Author information

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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46 comments on “Horner denies reports of vibration problems with Honda power unit”

  1. Former McLaren employee decides Honda is bad? Shocker…

    (This is a joke: nothing positive Red Bull ever say about Honda is ever believed on this site, so why not question negatives too?)

    1. Maybe Honda decided not to adress their issues and instead outdeveloped everyone to such an extent that they simply can afford to tune down the engine as far as necessary and still be competitive

  2. Do we know where these rumours started? I first saw this rumour on mentioned was on a technical forum which linked a video from former McLaren mechanic Marc Priestley.

    1. It’s Priestley who portends to have heard it from a former RB employee.

      1. Didn’t Nigel Stepney also have something to do with it? Or a close personal friend of Briatore’s Sister in law?

      2. @hahostolze
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEPt9J8bOSg&feature=youtu.be&t=441
        No mention of a ‘former RB employee’. He simply refers to unspecified contacts in the paddock. Make of that what you will, but ascribing that info to a former Red Bull employee is a red herring.

        1. No, it isn’t – as Dieter has reported on another website he writes for

          1. @hahostolze Is it that one?
            https://www.gptoday.net/nl/nieuws/f1/245309/achterkant-van-red-bull-rb15-is-nog-niet-in-balans
            It would be nice if you could start sourcing your statements, makes research one hell of a lot easier.
            Also, I wonder why this sort of info isn’t published in English as well, but it would seem that F1 journalism in Netherlands is increasingly becoming a bubble of its own. Which needn’t be a bad thing. But still.

  3. Could be something there? Thing is even from video only, the engine note from the Honda p/u is noticeably different, just as it was with McLaren.

  4. Maybe just v-tec kicking in???

    1. I never realised the V stood for ‘vibration’.

      1. So was it originally designed to be integrated into the 2014 Toro Rosso….?

  5. This engine was terrible last year wasn’t it? as well as the 5 years before that. I don’t know why they expect it to be suddenly good. To be fair Honda hasn’t done anything successful in F1 since the 80’s. Their engines were off by the early 90’s and other than getting lucky with the interpretation of the rules in ’09 and with another manufacturer’s engine, Honda has been terrible. So why a change in form over one short off-season? It will be kind of fun to watch what Max gets up to when he will have so much free time during the races.

    1. Honda engines were fine until hybrid v6 era. So what you trying to say is complete garbage. Most of the time (before 2014) their PU’s was just supplied to let say, medicore teams like BAR, Jordan etc. In matter of fact Honda made the best V10 engines at the time spitting out 982hp. V8 era wasn’t lucky for them as a factory team. Again the engine was very good but their chassis and aero package sucks…

      1. Dude.. Get your facts right. In the v10 and v8 era, Honda was the worst power unit on the grid. You can try to justify it by saying they didn’t garner enough success as a constructor (during and after the BAR days)… But at the end of the day, Honda hasn’t accomplished anything significant in F1 in any form.. Since 1991.

        1. @todfod are You suggesting Jordan Honda was just (mostly) smoke and (maybe also) mirrors? O.O

          1. @mrboerns
            Mostly, yes. Honda was only directly involved from 2000 onwards. Before that, the F1 engines were built by Mugen, a company closely affiliated, but not identical, with Honda.
            I used to be a fan of these Mugen engines in the late Nineties. Rather underrated, and prone to exploding spectacularly. They had it all.

        2. @todfod I’ve always believed those Honda engines were quite underpowered, but Otmar Szafnauer said in the Beyond the Grid podcast that the Honda engine on the 2004 BAR was the most powerful on the grid… He was an Honda boy back then so maybe I shouldn’t take it by the letter, but still…

      2. antybuc, I am afraid that the published data that is available for the Honda RA806E V8 engine, compared to the results for other engines, does seem to indicate that it was slightly underpowered when compared to the rival designs that were in use elsewhere.

        Racecar Engineering were provided with technical information directly from Honda that showed the peak power output of a 2008 spec RA806E engine was 747bhp in qualifying trim.

        By comparison, Mario Theissen, the former head of BMW’s motorsport division, has confirmed that the power output of BMW’s 2008 spec P86/8 engine was 752bhp.

        Published torque curves from Toyota for the RVX-09 – admittedly a 2009 spec engine – claimed a power output of 761bhp for that engine.

        Similarly, a study by students at the University of Cologne estimated that Ferrari’s 2008 spec engine produced about 755bhp and that the 2008 spec Mercedes produced 760bhp. I believe that they also estimated that the Renault engine’s power output was in the order of 745-750bhp.

        Comparing the results indicates that, in terms of peak power output, Honda’s V8 engines appear to have been towards the lower end of the field, so at best they were slightly below average in that area.

        In terms of driver feedback, which is admittedly a potentially more subjective area, the feedback from some former drivers wasn’t especially positive about Honda’s V8’s either. The usable power curve of the V8 engines did tend to be somewhat narrow even in the best of cases – the Renault V8 reportedly having sacrificed a small amount of peak power in return for having a broader usable power curve – with the Honda engine supposedly having, by comparison, one of the narrowest usable power curves.

        Now, I wouldn’t say that the Honda RA806E was completely terrible, but I can’t think of any area where the RA806E was thought of as being class leading. The Renault RS27 series was generally rated as having the lowest cooling requirements and the widest usable torque curve, Mercedes’s FO108 series engine was generally one of the most powerful and Toyota’s RVX series engine was thought to be one of the more fuel efficient engines.

        As for the V10 engines, the picture there appears to be a bit mixed – whilst you criticise teams like Jordan (BAR is more questionable, since Honda did have a major technical partnership from 2001 onwards and, from 2004 onwards, was one of the largest shareholders in the team), it is worth noting that Honda’s own data indicates that, in that initial period, their engines were underpowered when compared to their rivals.

        Their 2000 spec engine is quoted as producing 757bhp – by comparison, the 2000 spec Ferrari Tipo 049 is quoted as producing 792bhp, the Mercedes FO110J engine, according to Mario Illien, produced 794bhp and Theissen rated the 2000 spec BMW E41/4 engine at 799bhp.

        Now, by about 2003 it seems that Honda had caught up or surpassed some manufacturers, such as Mercedes, and were one of the more competitive outfits – although Honda themselves don’t seem to support the figure of 986bhp that is sometimes bandied about for their 2005 spec V10, which they rated at 938bhp.

        It also has to be noted that, whilst Honda’s V10’s did produce a lot of power in 2005, they did also have a fair number of problems in the first half of that season. They struggled to meet the minimum engine mileage standards to begin with – remember that they deliberately ordered both cars to retire from the opening race because they feared their engines would not last for a second race weekend and wanted to fit fresh engines.

        Generally, therefore, BMW are usually rated as having been the best engine builder during the V10 era, as their engines were generally more powerful and more reliable than Honda’s engines were in that era.

        1. Racefans definitely needs like button in comments section.

        2. @anon:
          This was very informative. Thanks.

    2. @darryn We don’t know if the engine was terrible last year. They used last year to R&D their Pu via STR, so that fact combined with the Pu being in a lesser car means we don’t really know where Honda are right now. So far, testing these recent days seems to show them being much more reliable, but then we don’t know to what levels they’ve been cranking the Pu to in relation to what they’ll have to do in order to reasonably compete in Australia.

      So I would say it isn’t about a change in form over one short off-season. It is about last season of R&Ding with STR, with RBR keeping a close watch, especially Newey, and then it is about RBR then putting their twist in the plot by integrating the Honda Pu into their chassis and seeing where they can take things together. It’s early days of a brand new marriage that should have great potential.

      1. Didn’t Honda come out and say that this engine was based on the engine used at McLaren. Not sure how you can R&D your way out of that.

  6. I’m not looking forward to the British race announcers saying “Honder” all season. No offense, Brits.

    1. No offense taken. We’re already annoyed with several seasons of David Croft referring to Vettel as “Fettle”

      1. annoyed with several seasons of David Croft referring to Vettel as “Fettle”

        I don’t get it. That’s as close as it gets to the correct pronunciation.

        1. its levioosa, not leviosaaaa

        2. It’s vibration.. Not fibration

          1. I don’t know what to say to this.

          2. idk…I thought it’s more like Schwingung where the guy came from?

        3. It may be, but then pronounce all of the non-English named drivers correctly. Not just Fettle. Croft is just plain annoying and maybe that is why the Fettle thing seems more annoying than it is.

  7. How easy vibrations can turn into sensations. That’s what my girlfriend say’s.

    1. Should be a sensational season for Max and Gasly then.

  8. is toro rosso running a different engine than honda ? because today STR flew

  9. I watched the interview live on Sky F1 that this quote is from. The very first few sentences responding to the vibrations isn’t part of the main interview quoted below it.

    1. I watched the interview live on Sky F1 that this quote is from.

      No you didn’t. This quote is from a one-to-one interview between Horner and Dieter. Horner may have said something similar to Sky at another point, but that is not where this quote is from. Which is why it says in the article: “Horner told RaceFans”.

        1. *crying with laughter emoji*

  10. Red Bull’s performance with Honda is probably the most fascinating thing about this season. Will it be another McLaren style disaster? Will they be about the same? Or could they be better?

    So much seems riding on it too. Red Bull have no other engine to take and Honda themselves seemed pretty close to walking away before. If Honda fail it could potentially sink two teams and a PU.

    I think for the sake of the championship, having a super competetive Red Bull up there capable of fighting for wins and championships against the deadlock of Mercedes & Ferrari is 100% needed.

    1. @rocketpanda It just doesn’t feel like it will be more McHonda with RBR, does it? They’re already racking up mileage in testing that they couldn’t with Mac, and while pace is hard to nail down, they haven’t been terribly slow either. I don’t see Honda close to walking away, since they have only just started with RBR really, after using last year to R&D with STR. Early days I know, but it seems almost impossible to imagine that they are closer to failure than to something satisfactory if not very successful, especially now that time has passed since Mac, as well as much work has gone on since then. Your last paragraph…completely agree.

  11. Steve Matchett once stated Honda engines were super sensitive and would break if a pit stop took an extra couple of seconds. I suspect if the engine is more reliable it will be at the sacrifice of power and vice versa.

    I don’t think last year proved much. Honda (or RBR and Rosso) claimed they were better than Renault though the latter almost always finished ahead of them. In essence, they still haven’t proven they are better than Renault.

    One thing for sure: RBR continue to bash Renault – if they get beat by Renault powered cars they will be the laughingstock of F1. RIC ahead of RBR would be a dagger in the heart. No pressure Honda:)

    1. I doubt Matchett has much intimate knowledge of Honda’s most recent foray in F1. I don’t know when Honda claimed they were better than Renault, but I agree they have everything to prove yet. I don’t know where RBR ‘continues to bash Renault’ and if Renault beats them RBR won’t be a laughing stock because this is just year one of the RBR/Honda marriage whereas Renault has had everything in place for several years. Honda is feeling whatever pressure they are going to feel no matter what the competition is doing. All they can control is that which is within their own walls. RIC ahead of RBR remains to be seen. Pretty safe to say the Newey RBR car will be better than the Renault car, forgetting about pu’s for a minute. But is RIC ends up ahead of RBR so be it, and that will just strengthen their resolve to improve.

  12. This vibration thing may be true, we’ll find out in a few days no doubt. There is also the power and reliability issues to deal with. I think it is unlikely that RB/Honda have made the progress that some here and RB had predicted earlier. If they can maintain their third spot that would be a pretty good effort. Unfortunately for Horner and co they don’t have much in the way of cred, so rather than take what they say as correct. I think most people including me will wait for the on track results.

    1. I think Red bull will have it’s hands full with balancing reliability and performance all season long as well… And if this vibration issue seems to be true, then their problems would increase three fold.

      I remember Mclaren’s Honda power unit vibrating to bits under the g forces in 2015. That was the biggest issue they had to solve in 2015, and they had to turn down performance to manage the vibrations. There was no easy fix for that issue. So, if this rumour is true, it’s going to be quite a frustrating set back for Red bull.

      I thought Red bulls form at the end nd of 2018 was magnificent. They were regularly contending for wins by the end of the year. I just cant see Red bull starting 2019 with that kind of form. I think Red bull should be extremely pleased if they can take a win or two towards the end of the season with Honda power.

  13. So, there are rumour’s of a Honda PU vibration … and Horner denies it.
    All that does is make me suspect the rumours are true …

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