Honda’s upgraded power unit is “very successfully complete”, according to Honda General Manager Masashi Yamamoto.
The Japanese manufacturer will race a new specification power unit in Suzuka this weekend, after testing the unit on Friday in Sochi.
“Recently, everything has been much better, especially regarding the combustion chamber,” Yamamoto said in Friday’s team bosses press conference.
In Russia, Honda had calibration issues with the upgraded unit but Yamamoto insisted those issues have since been fixed.
“We have upgraded it, and it’s finally complete, and very successfully complete,” he said.
Before FP1, Sky Sports F1 broadcasters insisted the new power unit was worth half-a-second to six tenths (per lap) of performance.
Former F1 driver Johnny Herbert said the update was a “good indication” for Red Bull, who will run Honda engines in 2019.
“I suppose Mr Tost can look forward to great weekend,” Yamamoto said.
Tost laid out his expectations for the new unit in Friday’s press conference, saying his drivers must now reach Q3.
Gasly and Hartley finished P11 and P17 during Suzuka’s first free practice session.
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“We must stay ahead of Sauber,” Tost said, explaining the Swiss team has begun to apply pressure late in the season.
Back in Sochi, Renault Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul admitted he’s “worried” about Honda’s continued rise in power unit competitiveness.
He said Honda has made “big steps, big gains” this year with Toro Rosso.
Abiteboul said he’s worried about everything in life, but the engine situation was something “in particular” on his mind.
Formula 1 Journalist Chris Medland tweeted in Sochi that Honda’s upgrade was “pretty significant.”
Satisfied Christian Horner
Honda’s upgrades have left Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner pleased ahead of his team’s link up with Honda in 2019.
“We’re hugely impressed by the effort, commitment, desire, determination to succeed that there is in Honda,” Horner said on Friday.
Horner admitted Honda’s “encouraging” progress in 2018 left him “very impressed.”
“In-roads are being made to reduce that gap to the benchmark in Formula One,” Horner said.
Between 2015 and 2017, Honda supplied power units exclusively to McLaren.
Horner said he’s “looking very much forward” to 2019 with Honda.