Red Bull will have a real ‘party mode’ for the first time in 2019 thanks to the much stronger qualifying mode of the 2019 Honda F1 engine that should bring them closer to Mercedes and Ferrari, Helmut Marko confirmed for Autosport.
After 12 years of using Renault engines, which brought them four doubles from 2010 to 2013, Red Bull decided to switch to Honda, which had a ‘test season’ with Toro Rosso in 2018, and many expect them to fight for the title in their first joint season.
Given the proven quality of Red Bull’s chassis, which in 2018 won four races with the third-strongest engine, this will require a smaller gap behing F1 strongest engines of Mercedes and Ferrari, and Renault’s power deficit in qualifying in 2018, according to claims from Red Bull, was between 50 and 70HP.
Red Bull says that at the end of 2018 Honda had already surpassed Renault when it comes to power in qualifying and their motorsport consultant Helmut Marko discovered that Honda prepared a real ‘party mode’ for 2019, a term introduced in early 2018 by Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes’s qualifying mode.
“The numbers make us really optimistic in terms of performance improvements,” Marko told Autosport.
“For the first time we have a ‘party mode’ for celebration!”
“The Honda engine is already slightly above Renault’s engine. If you combine our GPS data with Honda’s data, we’ll be close to Mercedes and Ferrari.”
“Of course they won’t sleep, but they are already at such a high level that they can no longer make such big jumps. Even if we are 10 or 15 kW behind them [14-20 HP], it would not be different from our Renault era with V8 engines. We can make up for that. ”
Red Bull already knows that Honda won’t make it with only three engines
Christian Horner said Red Bull’s 2018 F1 season would look different from an additional 50 HP, and in 2019 they hope to reduce this gap.
However, Marko is aware that Honda, with great desire and effort to reduce power deficit, will probably need to use more than three prescribed engines per driver.
But they also have a big advantage because it will be the first time since returning to F1 in 2015 to have four cars on the track and will be able to experiment more aggressively with Toro Rosso, just like in 2018 when they used as many as 16 engines in two cars.
“We are aware that it will probably be difficult with reliability,” Marko admitted.
“We are unlikely to be able to finish the season with three engines [per driver], but if you choose the right track, you can go back to the top for a couple of laps. That will be our concept, we will consciously accept penalties if necessary.”