Honda F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe has said the Japanese car-maker believes its 2021 power unit has “exceeded” the performance of Mercedes’ 2020 engine, which was the strongest power unit in the sport last campaign.
As a result of Honda deciding to exit Formula One at the end of this year, they decided to accelerate the development of their new spec engine and it will now be available for their two customer teams – Red Bull and Scuderia AlphaTauri – to use this upcoming season.
“I believe we exceeded last year’s Mercedes,” Tanabe told The Race.
However, the Japanese engineer admitted that this doesn’t mean Honda will have the best power unit in Formula One this year, as they don’t know how much of a step forward Mercedes and the other two power unit manufacturers – Renault and Ferrari – have made in the off-season.
“We have no idea how much improvement has been done in this off-season on Mercedes’ side,” Tanabe said.
“We will see when we start qualifying and after the race,
“Last year, we saw a big step in their development. It’s very hard to guess what’s going on and the result of their development. We have no answer yet.”
Commenting on last week’s pre-season test in Bahrain, Tanabe said it was a “good sign of reliability.”
Continuing, he said: “Actually, the number of problems is lower than I expected.
“I hope we will be in a position to fight for the championship against Mercedes.
“I know very much how strong Mercedes are in terms of technical [knowledge], chassis side, PU side, drivers, teamwork.
“It’s a little bit too early to say something after the three-day test.”