Honda says it intends to plan developing a faster qualifying mode as it sights one-lap gains following its first Formula 1 victory for 13 years.
The Japanese manufacturer linked up with Red Bull in an all-new partnership this year with the relationship immediately tasting success on debut securing a podium finish in Melbourne.
Max Verstappen scored an emphatic victory in Austria after recovering from a poor start that saw him slip five places on the first lap, claiming Honda’s first win of the V6 turbo-hybrid era.
Verstappen qualified third at the Austrian Grand Prix but Red Bull has generally lacked pace over a single lap compared to Mercedes and Ferrari in 2019.
Despite this, Honda’s F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe insisted, while the company is planning improved qualifying performance, progress in race trim is still needed.
“We try to use our engine as hard as we can,” said Tanabe, as quoted by Motorsport.com.“It’s not easy to make it higher immediately.
“But we keep developing, maybe in the next spec or update. But not the next race!”
Honda is already on its third spec engine of the season, introducing the latest upgrade in France with small increases in power and improved reliability.
It is felt pushing forward with engine development will allow opportunities for further upgrades later in the year, with Honda likely to exceed the limit of three engines per season.
Asked if Honda’s deficit to Mercedes and Ferrari is greater in qualifying than in race trim, Tanabe said: “Yes, we see a bigger gap in qualifying compared to the others. In the race we are still behind but not as much as in qualifying.
“So it means the next step we need to catch up is a qualifying mode or something, but it’s not easy.”