This upcoming Sunday finally the first race of the season, the Australian GP will take place. With enough of dramatic build up towards the comeback of F1, such as the testing-DAS controversies, controversies around the FIA agreement with Ferrari and even things as serious as the coronavirus outbreak and GP being postponed or will take place with no audiences on track, everyone can feel a little bit confused with what the upcoming season might bring.
Ahead of the first on-track action, the boss of Honda F1 Masashi Yamamoto shares some of his thoughts in an Australian GP preview. As he said: “We are making every effort to be there and fight for the championship. We had some unfortunate races last year, losing out in some of them, but we must avoid having those sort of races this year. Max says he wants to get on the podium at all the races, which is an aim we must support”.
In the season of 2019, Max Verstappen finished the season on the 3rd position in championship, with 273 points on his name, 3 wins and 6 other podium appearances. In 2020, the Dutch driver of Red Bull Racing aims for a podium in every single race of the season.
When it comes to Honda, Yamamoto says that Honda’s focus is mostly on reliability, but they have been encouraged by the good outcomes of the winter testing. As he said: “It’s always a balancing act but maintaining the good reliability comes first. Then on top of that we have tried to deliver more power so both teams can be as competitive as possible.We had very good races towards the end of last year, especially in Brazil, and also the development in the factory has gone really smoothly during the off-season”.
He added: “So I was looking forward to seeing the car on track in testing and now I can’t wait to see how we race in Australia. This year, testing went more smoothly than at any time since we returned to the sport, without any big issues. Overall, both teams were able to replicate an actual race weekend and that was also very good. We feel that we are now well prepared for the season ahead.”
During the new era, Honda went through many turbulences. Their comeback in 2015 as an engine supplier and revival of their partnership with McLaren that lasted till 2017 was a very underwhelming situation for a company that created the “most successful F1 car” MP4-4. Their problems with reliability raised many questions in the paddock, but then after the partnership it became more apparent that the fault was not only in the engines. From season 2018 Honda became the supplier of Toro Rosso that has very visibly improved, and gave a good promise for the next season. In season 2019 Honda supplied both Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso (Now Alpha Tauri), and will continue to do so in season 2020, after achieving podiums with both of the teams and wins with Red Bull Racing.
What will be the pace of Honda in the upcoming season? Will Red Bull Racing be able to challenge Mercedes for the title?
The first Grand Prix of this season starts on Friday, 13th of March 2020.