Honda’s chief engineer Tetsushi Kakuda now reveals the Formula One switch last year to fuel with a 10% ethanol mix “severely compromised” the reliability of its power unit for the entire 2022 season.
“We made every effort to recover the performance loss due to the E10 fuel,” Kakuda said.
Honda 2022 PU suffered “several problems”
“But as a result, the internal load to the engine increased significantly compared to the previous years and the reliability was severely compromised.
“As a result, several problems surfaced during the 2022 season.”
While the Honda power unit was reliably in terms of race finishes, Kakuda asserts confidently a number of significant problems needed to be resolved.
“So, talking about reliability improvement, if that can be improved, this is going to help with giving more options from a strategic perspective and how you can use the power units.
Red Bull to gain more strategic deployment options
“That is why we’re going to be working in collaboration with the team to adopt the best strategy for the power unit.”
The Honda problems Kakuda refers to will have affected Reed Bull’s strategic deployment of their engine in a number of ways.
A reduced engine mileage at full power is almost certainly to have been something the team would have to contend with. This means they needed to be strategic in their decisions as to where and when the power unit was allowed to run at full tilt.
Kakuda also reveals that Honda have improved the software used to run the engine. For 2023 only one version of software is allowed for the season down from 5 in 2022.
Improved control of V6 energy management
There were issues with the control of the Honda V6 reveals the Japanese engineer and significant improvements have been made in the energy management specifically “a clear advantage” in the control of the MGU-K.
“Not only we must improve the areas where problems have become apparent but also we have been preparing ourselves to have wider strategies by identifying the limits of each part and maximising its potential,” says Kakuda.
“In addition to improving reliability, we deepened our understanding of our PU to further optimise the control and energy management.
“We have also matured ourselves in the electrification technologies, where we had a clear advantage last year, especially the [control of] MGU-K deployment.”
Honda looking to 2026 and beyond
Honda fortunately had no race critical failures, yet it seems their attitude towards their power unit is one of continual improvement.
“We have continued to work with our suppliers to improve the precision of parts in terms of manufacturing, quality inspection, governance, as well as the precision power unit assembly,” added Kakuda.
“HRC Sakura has been making an all-out effort for this coming season.
“We believe we are fully prepared for the pre-season tests starting this week.”
Honda are currently registered as a power unit supplier for the new era coming in 2026. And given the current V6 hybrid will be the basis for the new power units, Honda clearly believe its worth pushing hard now to keep ahead of its competition.