Red Bull look to be Mercedes biggest rivals in 2021 and as a result Honda F1 managing director Masashi Yamamoto expects the team to win multiple races while being competitive at others this season.
The Milton Keynes outfit missed out on victory by less than a second at the Bahrain Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton got the better of Max Verstappen. However the Dutchman showed the RB16B isn't short of pace, topping every time sheet over the course of the weekend before the race.
Yamamoto told Formula1.com that he expects Red Bull to perform well at all the races, with some of them ultimately turning into victories.
“Realistically it will be really difficult to win all the races or be strong on every single track,” Yamamoto told Formula1.com. “But we are communicating very well with Red Bull that certain races we think we have to win.
"And the other races we have to make sure we can get at least a podium – that kind of balance we have to get right and then pick up strong results in all the races.”
Honda's engine looks to be close to that of Mercedes, which has been the benchmark in F1 for years. Yamamoto explained how the Japanese manufacturer stepped up their plans to introduce a new power unit ahead of schedule.
“In the very original schedule before Covid hit, the power unit was meant to be brought in 2021,” Yamamoto stated. “But then Covid happened and that had an impact on development so we delayed it until 2022. Then things changed again because we announced we’d be leaving F1 at the end of 2021, so we brought it forward again to this year.
“Obviously we stopped a bit of the development of the 2022 engine because of the Covid situation – maybe for a few months – and then we brought it forward again to 2021, therefore it was very tight in terms of the timeframe. The engineers in Sakura did a very good job."