Aston Martin Red Bull has switched to Honda power in a bid to improve engine performance, following a strenuous season with engine suppliers Renault, which saw the team finish third for the second consecutive year.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Dr Helmut Marko talked Red Bull’s questionable decision to move to Honda power up, saying the supplier’s engine was ‘already better’ than their previous French partners.
“The figures make us really optimistic, also with regard to the increase in performance,” Marko said.
“For the first time, we can also celebrate with a ‘party mode’!
“The Honda engine is already slightly above the Renault engine. If you combine our GPS data with the data provided by Honda, we’ll be in the Mercedes and Ferrari region.
“Of course they’re not sleeping either. But they are already at such a high level that they can no longer make such jumps.
“Even if we should be 10 or 15 kW behind, that was no different in our Renault era with the eight-cylinder engine. We can make up for that.”
RedBull saw the top step of the podium four times last year, but also suffered from a multitude of reliability problems, which Renault admitted it had not made the performance progress it planned.
In comparison, Honda finished a strong rebuilding season with Red Bull Toro Rosso after three disastrous years with McLaren F1 Team.
Although it too had their own reliability setbacks, it was outweighed by its reliability and performance developments, although Marko anticipates Red Bull will not have a trouble-free first season with Honda.
“We are aware that it will probably be difficult with reliability,” said Marko. “Most probably we won’t be able to get through the season on three engines.
“But if you choose the right tracks, you can be back at the top in a few laps. That will be the concept, that we consciously accept engine penalties if necessary.”
Marko also said Red Bull had been “portrayed as the big whiners” at a time with Renault but insisted the figures speak for themselves.
“We were in the B category right from the start,” he said. “We lacked up to 70bhp in qualifying.
“Depending on the race track it became less, but on average we were always at least 40bhp behind.
“Our GPS data clearly shows how much we lose on the straights and how much we win in the corners. When the Ferrari power was at its peak, the difference was even more extreme.”