Honda outlines 2021 power unit upgrades

A Honda-powered Scuderia AlphaTauri AT02

Honda has outlined how it has upgraded its power unit ahead of its final season as an official Formula 1 engine supplier.

The Japanese marque announced last October that it would be exiting the championship, but has brought forward a new-specification power unit for its swansong with Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri.

According to its technical director, Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda managed to reach its targets in winter testing.

“On the dyno the numbers we have seen match what we expected,” he said upon AlphaTauri’s season launch.

“Let’s see how competitive we can be on track in the actual races.”

As to changes, Tanabe explained, “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.

“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.”

The power unit which the two Red Bull teams will race with in 2021 was in fact originally intended to be introduced this year, only to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic then restored to its original timeline due to Honda’s decision to pull out.

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

“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.”

Honda’s power units will not be lost to F1 at the end of the upcoming campaign, however, with its intellectual property secured by Red Bull to continue producing engines until the new ruleset takes effect in 2025.

On that development, Tanabe commented, “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.

“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.”

Red Bull Racing is set to hold its season launch in coming days.

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