Honda have made gains with their new power-unit design for the 2021 Formula 1 season according to Japanese rookie Yuki Tsunoda.
After a rather short winter break, F1 is back in action with all teams putting their new cars through their paces at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Honda’s decision to leave F1 at the end of 2021 left Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri with the conundrum of finding a replacement power unit supplier. That eventually lead to Red Bull purchasing the rights and technical know-how from Honda to use and develop their power units in the future; something that wouldn’t have been feasible had it not been for the freeze agreed by the FIA and the teams regarding the power unit development from 2022 until 2025, where a new set of power unit regulations is expected to be introduced.
Honda have since been under pressure to bring their A-game this season, so as to leave the sport on a high note. For that reason, they brought forward the power-unit updates planned for 2022 and incorporated them in the 2021 unit.
Tsunoda, AlphaTauri’s new rookie driver, has been able to sample Honda’s 2021 power-unit during testing so far and hence, was able to provide an insight about its performance.
“I think Honda made quite a good step compared to previous engines from previous years,” he said. “Especially the performance side for the qualifying lap. I feel gains, especially in the top speed so that’s positive.”
But it seems that despite the gains Honda made, there were some issues with the new power unit’s operation as the Japanese rookie pointed out: “But also on the other side, there’s problems with the off-throttle shifting and also a bit of issues with consistency.”
Power-wise, Tsunoda has echoed his positive impression: “But definitely gave us gains for the power so for Honda a really good, positive day,” he concluded.
On the reliability front, some issues surfaced according to Tsunoda: “It’s been quite a difficult afternoon session unfortunately. The weather has been bad, with the sand and wind making the conditions tricky to drive in, and then the team discovered an issue with the fuel system in my car.
“This meant that I had to box ahead of the end of the session – they’re investigating it now though and I’ll be ready to head back out on track when the lights turn green for the morning session tomorrow.”
Testing will be concluded on Sunday, March 14, after which all the teams will analyse all the data that has been collected before showing up for the season opener in Bahrain on March 28, where they will have to show their true mettle.