We can make steps together

02/03/2019
NEWS STORY

While the final day of testing was compromised by Pierre Gasly's crash the previous day, Red Bull came away from pre-season testing feeling confident.

Granted, Gasly's crash came at a time the team was about to look to performance and as a result while the Frenchman posted the eleventh fastest time, teammate Max Verstappen never got to stretch the RB15s legs, and remains at the other end of the timesheets, 1.488s off the pace, a time posted on his favourite C3 boots.

Though Red Bull comes away from Barcelona with a mere 833 laps completed (2,409 miles), down by 6.9% on its 2018 mileage, in total the two Honda-powered teams completed 1,768 laps (5,113 miles), up 115% on 2018 when it only supplied one team, Toro Rosso.

Honda and its new partner head to Melbourne feeling confident, both feeling that this is a partnership that will reap rewards.

"All the decision-making and execution of Red Bull is always decided under the thought of 'how we can win the race and championship?'" says Honda's motor sport boss, Masashi Yamamoto. "It is always their first priority anytime and everyone in the team is working together towards such a clear target.

"This impression has not changed from the time of negotiation until now," he admits. "It is a pure racing team and we are excited to work with such an outfit.

"In terms of the pressure, we already knew from the beginning of the conversation that they are obviously a big team and all the fans and media has high expectations for them, so to be honest there's not much change there either. We were ready for it. You could describe it that half of our feeling is one of big pressure but the other half is of positive expectation."

"I have found working with Honda very straightforward," adds Christian Horner. "There's a great deal of passion and enthusiasm. It's been a very open and straightforward dialogue that the two companies have been having, and you can see their sense of determination and the commitment that Honda has made to F1. It's a perfect match for us. It's been enjoyable and hopefully we can also have some fun along the way as well.

"Inevitably when you've got such a big change - it's the first time that we've changed power supplier in twelve years - there's going to be a getting to know you process. Rome wasn't built in a day, so whilst we're expecting to make progress throughout the year the target is very much looking at this as a two-to-three-year project.

"In terms of the gap to Ferrari and Mercedes, we know where we've been the last couple of years. There are circuits that have suited us, there are circuits that haven't, and our target is to be consistent across all types of venue."

Of course, the Red Bull - Honda 'marriage' was smoothed by the ongoing relationship between sister team Toro Rosso and the Japanese manufacturer.

"Strategically it was a vital decision when Toro Rosso elected to take up a partnership with Honda for the 2018 season, and it gave Red Bull Technology - who supply the drivetrain solution to Toro Rosso - the ability to see behind the scenes a little of how Honda operate and their working practices, as we incorporated our transmission onto their engine," says Horner.

"Monitoring the progress through the year meant that, by the time it got to Red Bull Racing making an engine decision, in the end it was very straightforward."

"It is the same for both teams in that we are targeting achieving better results through the year," says Yamamoto. "As Honda, we'll keep working hard on the development and try to introduce the updates during the season as planned, but also we want to win races. We want to make this season the year we get it right to challenge at the top."

"There's a sense of great anticipation and excitement within the factory," admits Horner. "It's exciting to be working with a new partner that shares our racing instinct and desire for competitiveness in a true partnership. So it's been great to see Honda engineers and Red Bull engineers really engaging and working hard on engineering solutions.

"Adrian is a designer, he's only really interested in horsepower. So of course he's very excited by this new relationship. He's been to the facility in Japan and was fully supportive of the move to Honda power supply for the 2019 season.

"The whole technical team has fully embraced this with huge enthusiasm, so it's been like a new lease of life throughout the technical team, who are now working in a technical partnership as opposed to a customer-supplier relationship."

"To be a partner with such a big team like Red Bull, it is a big pressure for Honda but also it is for sure a very big chance for us," says Yamamoto. "We believe we can have a good relationship together where we can have open communication with mutual respect, just like we have built with Toro Rosso.

"We can't be sure if we can immediately compete at the level to fight for the top until we actually see our cars running on track, but I strongly think this is a partnership which we can make steps forward together."

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Published: 02/03/2019
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