Mercedes Formula 1 engine boss Andy Cowell has highlighted Honda’s improvement during the 2019 season as one of the standouts of the year.
Honda struggled during its return as an engine supplier, enduring an unsuccessful relationship with McLaren before switching to Toro Rosso in a move that began to see the Japanese marque make drastic improvements.
However it wasn’t until the winter of 2018 that Honda’s development rate saw a breakthrough ahead of its debut season with Red Bull, which has seen it surpass Renault and match the leading engine suppliers of Mercedes and Ferrari.
Red Bull took three victories in 2019 and a further eight podium finishes – two of which were with Toro Rosso – as Honda enjoyed its best season since its return in 2015.
The rate at which they’ve improved is ahead of Ferrari – which has made major engine gains this year – according to Cowell.
“Honda are the best improvers this year, they’re way ahead of Ferrari in terms of development rate,” Cowell said in a Motorsport Magazine podcast.
Cowell believes that will lead to an exciting 2020 season as stable regulations means the teams and engine suppliers will continue to converge in terms of performance.
“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.”