Mercedes’ struggles during pre-season testing in Bahrain were compounded by the fact that Red Bull looked so impressive. The team faced barely any problems in the entire period.
Engine manufacturer Honda is left rather impressed with the job it has done in what will be its swan-song from the sport.
Even AlphaTauri was highly impressive in Bahrain, with Yuki Tsunoda notching the second-quickest time on the grid.
After Honda brought forward its updates that it was set to implement in 2022 to this season, this will certainly feel good.
Honda will further be buoyed by the fact that the current engine it has provided is more than good enough to battle the Mercedes car of 2020.
Honda F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe spoke about how happy he was with these developments.
“I believe we exceeded last year’s Mercedes. It depends on the conditions,” Tanabe said.
“But, we have no idea how much improvement has been done in this off-season on Mercedes’ side. We will see when we start qualifying. And after the race.”
Tanabe didn’t want to get too ahead of himself, though. He knows just how strong Mercedes can be when it feels intimidated.
“Last year, we saw a big step in their development. It’s very hard to guess what’s going on and the result of their development. We have no answer yet.”
The reliability has not been under question this season despite the high temperatures present in Bahrain.
Red Bull will be optimistic about the fact that they have not faced any major problems during pre-season testing. However, the team is smart enough to also understand that it cannot put its foot off the pedal, especially with the potential for other teams to be sandbagging at this point.
It cannot be denied that this looks like one of the closest seasons in recent times and Red Bull will be optimistic it can close the gap further on Mercedes and perhaps even challenge it for the constructors’ championship.