Honda head of power unit development Yasuaki Asaki is confident that the company’s new engine can compete with Mercedes in the Formula One. He said they had to design an all-new power unit to compete with Mercedes. He added that the company’s decision to exit F1 at the end of the 2021 season accelerated their development work and they put in everything in the 2021 engine.
“I gave the instruction (six months ago) for us to start work on the new structure PU. I think the biggest concern on the Red Bull side was whether we’d be able to get it done in time, but we explained that with the previous PU we would not be able to beat Mercedes and that we would need the new PU in order to do that. In order to win, we needed to implement the new PU, and hence we started work on it,” Asaki explained.
“There were some of our engineers who came to me directly and said we will not be able to do the development required in the time that we have. However, once everyone was informed of the news from President Hachigo that we would be leaving Formula 1, I think they understood the reason why I came to them and asked for us to get this new PU ready in that time,” he said.
“So what I did was say to everyone that given that this is our last year it’d be nice for us to be able to demonstrate what it is we’ve achieved as Honda engineers. And with that everyone’s expression changed instantly really, and everyone kind of got to work on doing what needed to be done,” he added.
Asaki said the fact that his company changed the structure of the PU in only six months is an “almost miraculous technological achievement”.
“Changing the structure of the PU with only six months until testing and round one is an incredibly challenging thing to do. But thanks to the hard work that everyone put in together, we were able to get the development work done, we ran well in testing, and were able to get ready for round one. So if everything goes well, we think that this will be able to contribute to the capabilities of Red Bull,” Asaki explains.
Asaki revealed Honda was getting close to Mercedes in 2019 but then they accelerated their development.
“We only have one year left so we have to be able to gain improvements from this straight away. Our objective is to beat Mercedes,” he said. “Last year just as we thought we were getting closer to them, they showed further improvement. So looking back on what we’ve learned so far, we’ve set even higher goals for ourselves and if their improvements are within what we’ve assumed them to be, then I believe we have the capability to compete with them,” he added.