F1 | Honda to evaluate if they can run power unit more aggressively in battle against Mercedes
Following Red Bull’s defeat to Mercedes at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Honda will investigate if they ran their power unit optimally.
Honda’s final season in Formula One (for now) started strongly at the Bahrain Grand Prix. With Honda power, Max Verstappen stormed to pole last Saturday by almost 0.4s as the Japanese company secured their first pole at a season opener in 30 years.
However, in the race, it was much closer. Verstappen couldn’t pull away from Hamilton in the opening stint and it played a major role in deciding the race when Mercedes pulled the pin and perfected the undercut on Red Bull.
The engine modes teams use must remain the same between qualifying and the race; that was an introduction brought in during the 2020 season. Nonetheless, they can tweak things like their energy deployment strategy and how aggressively they run their power unit through the course of a weekend.
Honda’s F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe says that they’ll review the data and look at if changes need to be made to get optimal usage from their power unit.
“We will review and consider this data,” said Tanabe according to Autosport.com.
“We need to see how much the power unit has been exhausted in this race, and we will then use it according to the characteristics of each circuit in the future.
“We plan to verify whether this usage was optimal. Basically, I think that it can be used without problems, but I plan to think about what I should do to use it properly in the future.”
Tanabe admitted that Verstappen’s 2nd place in Bahrain left him with mixed emotions. Whilst he conceded it was a disappointing result, he also said the strong performance is a positive thing.
“It was a disappointing result,” said Tanabe. “But Max was able to compete for the win in the first race of the year, and I think it's a positive thing to see such a performance. I think it was a good race for the first race of the season.
“We did what we could. I think the team's strategy was also optimal.
"However, I think that the lack of results means that it is still not enough. If someone asked me that 'Are you 100% satisfied?', I would have to say 'no'."
After two wins last year in a season dominated by Mercedes, Tanabe says Red Bull and Honda are in a much better position to challenge the seven-time defending champions for the 2021 titles.
“Last year, we were only able to win when everything went well,” he added.
“In terms of the difference with Mercedes, I think this year we are in a better position.”