Eric Boullier’s words when saying he and McLaren team were not able to understand why their cars were quicker in post-race test sessions, are yet in mind of the F1 fans: everyone was shocked in listening that the Team Principal of one of the most winning brands of F1 had to say at media microphones. ‘How can a multi-million investment machine like a constructor be unaware of their car behaviour?!’ was the common thought. Well, the story may be repeating. And the fun is that the former McLaren partner is involved, Honda.
Nowadays that is assumed that the faulty seasons severed in the last years at Woking, didn’t had the guiltiness on Japanese side, hilarity is spontaneous as Honda admitted that the reason behind such improvements is
“not very easy to tell […]. […] we have not an easy answer yet”
At that time the mismatch between systems and powertrain unit is known to have been the cause of the famous Alonso’s team radios. Now Honda F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe, struggles to suggest why Verstappen claimed a win in the Red Bull home Grand Prix and why both cars performed well at Silverstone single lap.
Moreover, Christian Horner is asking to the manufacturer an extra push required for the second half of 2019: after Hockenheim and Budapest, Spa and Monza (together with high altitude Mexico City) are renowned for being engine-demanding circuits. Being reliability well underway (but let’s way the Singapore oven) and having achieved the 25 points needed for keeping (maybe) Max at Milton Keynes, Red Bull manager now puts the stakes even higher:
“Reliability has been strong – we still have all three engines available to use (per driver). They have only introduced new engines based on performance increments. We’re pushing for more in the second half of the year, which they have in the pipeline. Now they have tasted success and they see the benefit that success brings”
The claim is born from the exceed of expectations predicted for a first year of a technical marriage in F1:
“This season was always going to be a transitionary year, with a new engine partner coming on stream and the whole marriage and integration that is involved. That has exceeded internal expectations, in terms of by race nine we have a win and we have had a couple of podiums”
What restrains more Honda Racing could be the rumour spread by the team’s title sponsor, Aston Martin. From the voice of the CEO Andy Palmer, the British constructor released that they “stand ready [for the 2021 engine regulations], with the hope that Honda will continue”: the manufacturer could think of an involvement on the engine side (“The obvious place for Aston to become involved in would have been the engine”) but everything set to be frozen until a stop from Japan could end the comeback of Tokyo in F1:
“Would I like to be a little bit more involved [in F1] technically? I think that depends. I think that's a question on whether Honda continues to develop the engine. Clearly they have a lot more money and musclepower than we do. I don't think we're going to muscle in on that while the relationship with Honda exists”
The typical threat style from Marko and Horner is launched: if results don’t come in the last half of the season or in next year, Aston Martin logo could replace their on the engine block. But what if Honda decides to pack up everything and escape from the exit door? And how many seasons could take to Aston Martin to be competitive? Be always risk lovers may not always pay off.