The constant narrative of every single season in the turbo-hybrid era of Formula 1 has pretty much read like the following as if reading it were a manual based on utter dominance. Chapter 1) Mercedes will dominate Qualifying displaying tremendous pace on Saturday. Chapter 2) Mercedes will thrash the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull. Finally, Chapter 3) Either among Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas will emerge on the top step, with the former outpacing the latter and with it, close competitors like Ferrari’s Vettel and Red Bull’s Verstappen.
How Red Bull changed gears?
But it is only now, in 2021, where the narrative found itself somewhat changed, all thanks to the mercurial efforts or should we say, raw pace of Red Bull. For a team that in seasons like 2018 and 2019 was merely playing catch up to the serious Mercedes versus Ferrari rivalry has now emerged as the frontunner in 2021, with a serious chance to take, at least, one title crown.
And depending on how successfully Max Verstappen continues to defy the great seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, it could either be the Driver’s championship or if the two Red Bull drivers compete brilliantly in tandem, then the Constructor’s crown.
That being said, among the reasons for Red Bull’s inspired run, as evident by four consecutive race wins, something that never happened previously since the start of the 2014 F1 season, have been two, in particular:
A) The ability to maximise full potential of the power-unit
B) The superior straight-line speed advantage, using which Verstappen has finally begun to get the measure of Hamilton.
And what can possibly be expected in the next few hours from now, in the wake of the qualifying for second round at Austria, i.e., the 2021 Austrian Grand Prix may be another pole for the Red Bull team. That’s unless, Mercedes deliver a belter of a lap to undo all the good work done by the Milton Keynes-based outfit.
What Honda have to say about Red Bull’s dominant show
But where superior speed and great on-track consistency is concerned, everyone following the 2021 season have been left guessing about one particular question-
Just how have Red Bull managed such a stellar show? To this, Honda, the key engine suppliers of the Christian Horner-led team have offered some answers, which point to the team holding a comfortable position of ascendency over their staunchest rivals.
That told, the following is what Honda’s F1 Technical Director, Mr. Toyuharu Tanabe had to offer as he denied rumors of 15bhp gain (as found from the latest power unit), “I’m very happy if it is true, but it’s not true. Under the current regulations, any performance update is not allowed during the season. As a result, our second power unit is the same as the first PU in terms of specification and performance.”
Adding further about the current pace being enjoyed by the stellar RB16, Mr. Tanabe would further add, “The current performance improvement is as a result of the hard work from Honda, and the teams.
Under current PU regulations, we need to submit any changes. [We’re] only allowed to change for reliability, cost reasons, and logistics. We need to submit very detailed [documents] to the FIA first, and the FIA approved those changes. The FIA distributes all the documents to the other PU manufacturers. So, we need to have approval from the other big manufacturers to change any single parts specification,” he concluded.
To conclude, what we have in front of us is another mega potential to see Red Bull deflate Mercedes come Sunday, i.e., July 4. But for that to happen, either among Verstappen or Perez will have to carry out a ‘Max’imum attack from the front.