Honda closing in on Mercedes power to boost Red Bull
Lewis Hamilton says Honda 'pretty much just as quick as us'; Bahrain GP exclusively live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend
Last Updated: 29/03/19 6:23pm
Honda have been praised for "significantly reducing" their power deficit to Ferrari and Mercedes with the world champions now convinced Honda's engines have almost reached parity with their own.
After three years of high-profile failure with McLaren, followed by a season of stability with Toro Rosso, Honda are Red Bull's power providers for F1 2019.
The new partnership registered a podium on its debut in Australia - with Max Verstappen's third place also representing Honda's best result since they returned to the sport five years ago - and optimism is growing their engine prowess will soon be a match for the class-leading Mercedes and Ferrari units.
"The progress they've made over the winter has been fantastic and the level of commitment that's going in is enormous," Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1.
"We've significantly reduced the gap but there is still a gap to Ferrari and Mercedes and it'll be very hard to diminish that further.
"We're positive about the developments in the pipeline to come."
When's the Bahrain GP on Sky F1?
Sunday's race underway at 4.10pm, Qualifying at 3pm - exclusively live on Sky Sports
On Thursday, world champion Lewis Hamilton told reporters: "Without a doubt, the Red Bulls have a much better power unit this year. Their engine performance is very, very close - I believe it's within 10 brake horsepower of both the top cars.
"If you look at their GPS speed on the straights they are pretty much just as quick as us."
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His Mercedes boss Toto Wolff added: "The Honda has certainly made a huge step forward. If you look at the speed trace it looks a different Red Bull than before. They are very fast on the straights and that's good to see. We want them in the mix and we want to have a great fight."
Both Red Bull drivers have also been buoyed by Honda's advance.
"The package and potential we showed in Australia was really positive," said Pierre Gasly. "Honda is pushing massively. They managed to do a big improvement over the winter and we are really pleased."
Verstappen concurred: "We are definitely closing in but we are not there yet. We will see through the rest of the year how we can close the gap."
Sky Sports F1's Bahrain GP schedule
Saturday, March 30
10am: Formula 2 Race One LIVE!
11.45am: Bahrain GP Practice Three Build-up
12pm: Bahrain GP Practice Three LIVE!
1.10pm: Paddock Walkabout LIVE!
2pm: Bahrain GP Qualifying Build-up (Simulcast on Sky One)
3pm: Bahrain GP Qualifying LIVE! (Simulcast on Sky One and Sky Sports Main Event)
4.30pm: The F1 Show LIVE! (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
Sunday, March 31
12.10pm: Formula 2 Race Two LIVE!
2pm: The F1 Show Repeat (Simulcast on Sky One)
2.30pm: Bahrain GP Pit Lane LIVE! (Simulcast on Sky One)
3.30pm: Bahrain GP On The Grid LIVE! (Simulcast on Sky One)
4.10pm: THE BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX LIVE! (Simulcast on Sky One)
6pm: Bahrain GP Paddock LIVE! (Simulcast on Sky One)
7pm: Bahrain GP Race Replay (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
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