Big announcement about Honda, from Verstappen’s boss

Red Bull director Christian Horner believes the team has made progress in order to compete with Mercedes this season.

Currently, in the midst of preparations, the different teams on the grid are fine-tuning their respective cars before the start of the new F1 season. Red Bull is, therefore, working hard for Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon.

 

Christian Horner, boss of the Austrian team, explains in remarks brought by Nextgen-Auto that everything is being done to catch up with the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

“We’re in a good position to fight with them this season” says Horner.

“Honda has done an incredible job, every engine introduction last year has brought performance and power, and it seems that we are now very close to Mercedes.

“It also puts the emphasis on the chassis part of the team. Before we start this season we feel we are better prepared, earlier than we were in the previous five seasons.

“Let’s not forget that they are reigning world champions. So they’ll be favourites.

“But I think the stability in all areas, with the drivers and the technical staff, has allowed us to build up a dynamic in the second half of the season, and I think we are in a good position to fight with them this season,” said Christian Horner.

And getting a fast start to this season would be crucial for a number of reasons, two of which are to do with Verstappen and Honda.

TJ13 reported some weeks ago that Red Bull are desperate to retain the interests of Honda in Formula 1, of which the senior management is still in doubt whether continued participation is a valid exercise.

Red Bull’s Helmut Marko had been reported by Auto Bild and said he was “optimistic that they will continue [in F1]”, and such a statement does tend to bring about the question of their continued F1 participation sport.

Indeed there is real concern about Honda and their desire to remain in Formula 1, and signing up the star driver in Max Verstappen is surely a clear sign of longer term commitment to the sport by Red Bull, with one eye of Honda.

TJ13 reported some time ago that Honda’s commitment to Red Bull and F1 up until 2021 was strangely not celebrated by the manufacturer when it was announced in November 2019. It was just Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso that gave the announcement it’s normal pomp and circumstance. Not Honda themselves…

 

“There was no press release, not a word was said about the period after 2021, so a high-ranking figure within F1 describes the overall strategy as ‘bizarre’.” describes Racefan’s Dieter Rencken in an article questioning the weird announcement.

Back to Verstappen, and Red Bull’s ‘hard place’ – in essence, to retain the services of Verstappen, Red Bull (ergo Honda) have to deliver a reasonable chance for Max to challenge for the Championship. And in order to do that, Red Bull Honda must deliver early in the season. Their usual Modus Operandi being that of slow starts each season, that simply cannot happen in 2020.

This is why we’re seeing the positive rhetoric from Horner. Indeed a crunch year for the Red Bull / Verstappen / Honda project.

 

 

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