Red Bull say Honda have ‘exceeded expectations’
Many saw it as a marriage of convenience when Red Bull and Honda paired up. Red Bull had had enough of engine partner Renault while Honda had a similar feeling with McLaren, subsequently joining Toro Rosso before adding the energy drink giant's senior team. So far, the honeymoon period appears to still be in full swing…
In their first race as a pair, Red Bull-Honda scored a podium when Max Verstappen took third in Australia. Verstappen added another in Spain and then delivered the Holy Grail with victory in Austria, in front of Red Bull and Honda board members, no less, in what was only their ninth race.
“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,” said Horner. “That has exceeded internal expectations, in terms of by race nine we have a win and we have had a couple of podiums.”
Honda’s development curve this term has been encouraging. They’ve brought three new specifications already and each one has brought a reliability and performance step. There is another upgrade planned, the timing of which is unclear, although it’s unlikely it will appear before the summer break.
It was a very emotive win for Honda in Austria - they are starting to see, after all those painful years with McLaren, that the investment is paying off
Another upgrade, though, will mean fresh engines are required and that will mean grid penalties for Red Bull and sister team Toro Rosso, should they choose to use it. But both teams have said they are willing to take the pain in the short term if it means more performance in the long run.
“It was a very emotive win for Honda in Austria,” said Horner. “Some of their board members were there and they are starting to see, after all those painful years with McLaren, that the investment is paying off.
“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. After the difficulty of their reintroduction back into F1, the victory was the tonic they needed.”
The 2019 success of the Red Bull-Honda partnership has taken the team to a rather lonely third place in the current constructor standings, 52 points behind Ferrari but over 130 ahead of fourth-place McLaren.