Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Honda now “very, very close to Mercedes” – Tost

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

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AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost lavished praise on the new power unit Honda has produced for the 2021 F1 season.

Tost said the team’s new engine, which is also used by Red Bull, is a significant improvement over its predecessor.

“I must say Honda did fantastic job in Sakura, because this new power unit is much more powerful and drive-able [than] it was in the past,” said Tost.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was quickest in all three practice sessions for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Pierre Gasly was third-quickest for AlphaTauri in the final practice session.

“We’ll see in qualifying and also in the race, I think, that Honda is really very, very close to Mercedes,” said Tost on Friday. “I can only say thank you to the Japanese engineers because they did a fantastic job.”

However Tost said AlphaTauri will have to get the best out of their car in order to qualify inside the top 10.

“Our performance is as expected,” he said. “If everything runs well with both cars [we can be] in Q3.

“But the midfield is very tight and it’s hundredths of a second. You can be eighth, but you can also be 15th. And I personally hope that we can get it together and that both cars will be done in Q3 and we score points on Sunday.”

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The new power unit is not the only improvement AlphaTauri has made over the off-season, said Tost.

“We improved in every aspect, but you must not forget our competitors as well. If you look at the McLaren, they have the Mercedes power unit, they are very strong. For me, currently Red Bull and Mercedes are on the same level, maybe Red Bull is even faster.

“Then I see McLaren coming, and we see then what’s going on with Ferrari. But we are close to Ferrari and to the rest.”

AlphaTauri had a minor setback overnight as the team had to break curfew in order to work on Yuki Tsunoda’s car. They have used one of their two permitted exceptions to the curfew for the 23-race season.

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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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11 comments on “Honda now “very, very close to Mercedes” – Tost”

  1. About 3 years too late for McClaren. My in law, a massive McClaren fan knew Honda could/would build a decent engine but it just didn’t work out. Shame its not till the end they seem to be getting it right. Hindsight is a great thing isn’t it, McClaren seem to have just wasted so many years and man power and obviously can see the grass is not always greener.

    1. McLaren has only one C.

      Reply moderated
    2. I think that the seperation did not only function as a wake up call for McLaren – it started their process to get where they are now – the same was true for Honda. This was such an embarresment, and Red Bull undoubtedly pushed as hard at them as McLaren did before, and it spurred to top brass at Honda into finally putting their full effort behind things.

      And in the end that brought us this really solid engine.

  2. Why do they have to quit now just as they are getting good.
    Infuriating to say the least.

    1. At least due to the freeze, we should have a bunch of years with close engine performance. If the cars can overtake with the 2022 aero, we might have some very good racing.

      1. With any luck, Mercedes may struggle a little with the increasing cost cap, (let’s hope it creates some closer racing)

    2. It’s the managers pulling the plug, not the engineers working their ass off

      1. I know that, doesn’t make it any less infuriating.

    3. Indeed. One imagines they are having second thought now with even a good Japanese driver who could end up in the Red Bull.

      But grats to Honda. They really came good after that embarrassing start.

  3. Judging by sectors 1 and 3, they’re not close, they’re ahead.

  4. That car looks like a rocket. Tsunoda is a very intriguing driver. Can’t tell as yet whether he is top notch, but very promising indeed.

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