The Japanese automaker has kicked off its final F1 season with an all-new powertrain concept that partner Red Bull will make its own in the future.
For the 2021 design, Honda got aggressive with its packaging and introduced a few key changes to push the size limits it had already tried with its original ‘size zero’ engine with McLaren in 2015.
But if that 2015 powertrain proved troublesome – with cooling issues and the small turbo unable to deliver the necessary boost levels – and prompted a revised approach from Honda, its return to compact packaging is clearly working this time around. .
Honda F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe said no stone has been left behind in his effort to deliver something that will increase both Red Bull’s power and packaging.
“We looked at every part and concept type of our old PU, and then we designed this year’s PU as a new PU,” he said.
“Of course, our desire to improve our performance in our PU means ICE and ERS. Also, with the new design, we made it a bit more compact compared to the old PU.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
“I think that also helped the whole car and its performance.”
Speaking after the Bahraini Grand Prix, Tanabe explained what specific changes have been made to the engine block and why they have been such a help for Red Bull.
“The position of the camshaft was lowered and we lowered the height of the engine,” he explained. “It’s a compact package.
“As a result, when the engine is installed in the chassis, the degree of freedom of the air flow circulating inside the car is increased. In other words, it helped aerodynamics.
“It’s hard to come up with exact numbers for increasing downforce and improving lap time, but [Adrian] Newey said he was grateful that the PSU was more compact and helped with the new installation.
Honda’s effort with Red Bull paid off as the Bahrain Grand Prix F1 season opened, with Max Verstappen taking pole position and battling Lewis Hamilton’s eventual win for the win.