Andy Cowell, the Head of Mercedes-Benz’s engine department, says he was impressed by their rivals at Honda in 2019, feeling they were by far the best improvers across the year, ahead even of the engine department at Scuderia Ferrari.
Ferrari started the year with big gains on 2018, but Honda improved significantly across the season, with their straight-line speed gains being shown by the battle to the line between Mercedes AMG Motorsport’s Lewis Hamilton and Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly in Brazil, a battle where the Honda-powered Frenchman won.
That result gave Honda a one-two finish, with Gasly finishing behind Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, but Cowell, the managing director of Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains, says the overall development of the Honda power unit was impressive and the determination of both Red Bull and Honda to improve makes for an exciting future.
“Honda are the best improvers this year, they’re way ahead of Ferrari in terms of development rate,” said Cowell to Motorsport Magazine. “Red Bull can make championship-winning cars, Max Verstappen is formidable and Honda… their investment in what they’re doing is huge and their determination is huge.
“And that’s showing on track, and you can see that the structure and sound decision-making being done. It’s going to be exciting.”
Formula 1 ‘right’ to bring in V6 Turbo Hybrids – Cowell
Liberty Media’s failure to make significant changes to the engine regulations within Formula 1 for 2021 did disappoint Cowell somewhat, but overall, he feels the sport is heading in the right direction.
He also believes the V6 turbo hybrid power unit, first brought into the sport in 2014, is the right power unit for Formula 1.
“As an engineer that likes to be creative, likes new challenges, likes to be in the mire of a new challenge, fighting his way out, then yes, I wish there was more change,” said Cowell. “But I think Formula 1 is moving in the absolutely right direction, and I think the V6 and ERS power unit that we introduced in ’14 is now absolutely the right power unit.
“And I think it’s good that the four manufacturers just iterate more and more. Let’s have a close battle with the same set of regulations, I’m up for that.”