Toto Wolff notes that they are losing time in high-speed corners, as he praises the work from Honda, while adding their own derate issue.
On outright pace, Red Bull did manage to beat Mercedes in F1 Bahrain GP qualifying, which not only showed some strengths of the former’s car, but also the new Honda power unit. The German outfit came back in the race, but it was an easy task for them.
In fact, post-race, Dr. Helmut Marko revealed that Honda had to trim down on power with some reliability concerns. By this, he noted that despite some concerns, Max Verstappen could still stay on with Mercedes and manage to give a solid fight.
When asked, Wolff said he wasn’t surprised by the step taken by Honda, especially in their last year in F1. The Austrian reckons that this only motivates them to push further, as they wish to solve its issues with the Energy Recovery System, on the derate side.
It means, Mercedes isn’t able to recover enough energy to help itself on the straights. “I think we’re losing on the high speed corners,” said Wolff to written media. “We can clearly see there’s a deficit. We’re losing a little bit on the engine side in terms of derate. We are not yet in a happy place with our energy recovery, but it’s not one thing we point to where we can say this is the big gap.
“Am I surprised [with Honda’s performance]? No, I’m actually not at all surprised. I think Honda is a very proud company and I was convinced that they would give it all the power to have a great power unit in the final year as a works team. They left no stone unturned, no resource unutilised, to finish the job properly. So it’s good motivation for us.
“And I’m happy for them. As I said, Honda has done a great job, they have delivered a power unit that is extremely competitive look at where AlphaTauri is. And we just have to take it as sportsmen. This is how it looks. You just have to say they’ve done a really good job, full stop. There’s just no other solution than to recover.
“I believe that on the derate that you see it’s just something we need to get on top of. It’s not easy, but we’ll get there,” summed up Wolff. The issue with the derate was confirmed by customer team Williams too, but its chief Dave Robson noted that there is already some improvements seen in Bahrain from the pre-season testing.
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