Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has admitted that Honda currently have a stronger power unit than the Silver Arrows.
Speaking after qualifying for the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday, Wolff said Honda had done a “great job” in the off-season and have developed an “extremely competitive” power unit.
The Austrian also revealed that the Mercedes 2021 power unit is having more derates – periods where it can’t deploy its stored electrical energy – than the new Honda package.
“We’re losing a little bit on the engine side in terms of derates. We are not yet in a happy place with our energy recovery,” Wolff said.
“But it’s not one single point where we could say this is a big gap.
“Honda has done a great job. They have delivered a power unit that is extremely competitive – look at where AlphaTauri is – and we just have to take it as sportsmen.
“This is as it looks. You just have to say, well, they’ve done a really good job, full stop.
“But there’s just no other solution than to recover. And I believe that on the derates that you see just this is something we just need to get on top of. That is not easy, but we’ll get there,” Wolff added.
All four F1 engine manufacturers upgraded their power units for 2021, and it seems Ferrari – which had the weakest power unit last season – has taken a significant step forward as well.
Its 2021 chassis, the SF21, also looks more competitive than its predecessor, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz qualifying in P4 and P8 at Bahrain, respectively.