Honda has hit the engine performance targets it set itself with the introduction of an all-new power unit for the upcoming 2021 Formula 1 season.

The Japanese manufacturer has brought forward the development of a brand new engine for Red Bull and AlphaTauri - which unveiled its AT02 car on Friday morning - for the upcoming campaign in what will mark its final season before it bows out of F1 at the end of the year.

Honda has been bullish about its goal to end its tenure in the sport on a high by going all out for the world championship with Red Bull, and its F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe revealed encouragement gains have been made.

"On the dyno the numbers we have seen match what we expected,” Tanabe said. "Let's see how competitive we can be on track in the actual races.”

Tanabe explained details of the key changes it has been working on with its upgraded power unit for the 2021 F1 season, which is set to act as a major boost for both Red Bull-backed teams.

"It is difficult to be specific about which parts have seen the most work, but in order to improve power and reliability, we have made modifications to the ICE, turbine and ERS," he said.

"This is our third year with Scuderia AlphaTauri and in order to improve as a whole, we have also improved the installation and packaging of the entire PU.”

Honda’s decision to quit F1 ultimately resulted in a rejigged timing schedule and its engine development being fast-tracked for 2021, having originally been planned for introduction in 2022.

“Before the Covid-19 pandemic, we were going to introduce a new PU for this year,” Tanabe explained.

“However, given all the difficulties and restrictions because of the long F1 shutdown, combined with the European lockdown and delay in parts supply, we had decided to postpone it to 2022.

“However, taking into account the decision announced in October 2020, that Honda would leave the sport at the end of 2021, we reassessed the situation and changed our plan again to reintroduce it in 2021.

“It was very tight timing to make this change, but we managed to bring forward the development and preparation programme. At Honda, we felt that we really wanted to use all our technical know-how before leaving the sport.”

Red Bull will take over Honda’s IP following its departure from F1 to continue using the power units until the end of 2024, and Tanabe has welcomed the agreement.

"I think it is the right thing for Honda to do, considering our relationship with Scuderia AlphaTauri and Red Bull Racing, and how much Honda has benefited from those partnerships," he said.

"It also reflects the importance of our role and history, as part of the world of Formula 1 over several decades. So, I am glad that Honda has been able to help the two teams and the sport in this way."

 

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