Honda have confirmed they will bring a brand-new power unit to pre-season testing and the opening race of the 2021 Formula 1 season in Bahrain next month.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to F1's engine manufacturers being unable to develop their power units last year with any upgrades only allowed post-season. Honda have worked hard over the winter to bring forward a major update ahead of its final year in Formula 1 as Red Bull takeover their engines from 2022.
“Of course this is Honda’s last year in Formula 1 and in order to finish on a high note, everyone in Sakura and Milton Keynes is very determined and we feel we have prepared well for the coming season in conjunction with Scuderia AlphaTauri over the winter so far,” said Honda’s F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe.
“We won’t know for sure how good a job we have done until we hit the track, but so far preparation has gone smoothly.
“It is difficult be specific about which parts have seen the most work, but in order to improve power and reliability, we have made modifications to the ICE, turbine and ERS. This is our third year with Scuderia AlphaTauri and in order to improve as a whole, we have also improved the installation and packaging of the entire PU.”
Honda originally planned to introduce their new power unit for 2022, in line with the overhaul in technical regulations which could shake up the pecking order. Once Red Bull and Honda agreed a deal to run the Japanese manufacturer's engine from next year until 2024, plans changed.
“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we were going to introduce a new PU for this year; however, given all the difficulties and restrictions because of the long F1 shutdown, combined with the European lockdown and delay in parts supply, we had decided to postpone it to 2022," added Tanabe.
“However, taking into account the decision announced in October 2020, that Honda would leave the sport at the end of 2021, we reassessed the situation and changed our plan again to reintroduce it in 2021. It was very tight timing to make this change, but we managed to bring forward the development and preparation program. At Honda, we felt that we really wanted to use all our technical know-how before leaving the sport.”