Honda says it faced “tight timing” to ready a revised power unit for the 2021 Formula 1 season as it outlined where it has made changes to its specification.
The company announced in October that it will leave the sport at the end of 2021 – though a deal has been reached for Red Bull to run its power units at both teams through 2024.
This season will mark the fourth year of collaboration between AlphaTauri and Honda, marking the Japanese firm’s longest partnership with a team since it returned to Formula 1.
Speaking at the launch of AlphaTauri’s AT02, Honda’s Formula 1 Technical Director Toyoharu Tanabe explained that “in order to improve power and reliability, we have made modifications to the ICE, turbine and ERS.
“In order to improve as a whole, we have also improved the installation and packaging of the entire PU.
“Before the Covid-19 pandemic, we were going to introduce a new PU for this year, however, given all the difficulties and restrictions because of the long F1 shutdown, combined with the European lockdown and delay in parts supply, we had decided to postpone it to 2022.
“However, taking into account the decision announced in October 2020, that Honda would leave the sport at the end of 2021, we reassessed the situation and changed our plan again to reintroduce it in 2021.
“It was very tight timing to make this change, but we managed to bring forward the development and preparation programme.
“At Honda, we felt that we really wanted to use all our technical know-how before leaving the sport.”
AlphaTauri classified seventh in last year’s Constructors’ Championship, with Pierre Gasly victorious at Monza, a feat which made Honda the first supplier to win with two different teams in the hybrid era.
“Our rivals are also developing and so this will be another year of close competition, but we are sure that Honda and AlphaTauri have progressed over our three years together and we are now truly one team, strong and united,” he said.
“AlphaTauri’s support and cooperation played a key role in allowing Honda to become competitive in the hybrid era and we truly appreciate that.
“It would be great if we can do even better in our final year together.”