Honda reveals development secrets of 2021 F1 engine

Honda has given an unusually detailed insight into the development of its 2021 Formula 1 power unit, which scored its first victory in the hands of Max Verstappen at Imola.

Honda reveals development secrets of 2021 F1 engine

Honda's 2021 engine, the so-called RA621H, is viewed by many in the F1 paddock as the strongest PU in the current field, with Pierre Gasly’s qualifying form for AlphaTauri backing up the pace of Red Bull Racing.

A major package of changes that was in the system had originally been postponed to 2022, but following the Japanese company’s decision to end its official involvement in the sport early it was decided to fast track the new project for this year after all.

That represented a huge commitment, as the call was made quite late last season.

“The original plan was to implement this new structure PU this year in 2021,” said head of power unit development Yasuaki Asaki.

“But then for a variety of reasons, it was decided not to proceed with a brand new PU. However, the thinking on this really changed when Honda announced that we would be leaving the sport.

“I went to President Hachigo, and said to him that we would really like to implement this new structure PU for our last year in the sport. And he kindly accepted that request.”

Read Also:

Asaki stressed that the changes to the layout of the new PU were so significant that a huge amount of work was required.

“That was never going to be an easy task, given the scope of the changes being made to the power unit’s architecture,” he said.

“First of all we've changed the camshaft layout to be much more compact, and also brought its position lower down so it's closer to the ground.

“The main point of what we've changed was to improve combustion efficiency. In order to do so we had to change the valve angle, and in order to do that we had to change the camshaft.

"We've also had to make the head cover lower and more compact, which means that the way that air flows over it has become a lot better, and we've also lowered the centre of gravity of the ICE.

"Another thing we changed is the bore pitch, by reducing the distance between one bore and the next, we've made the engine itself shorter, smaller.

“In the old engine straddling the transmission we also had a bank offset whereby the left bank was slightly offset from the right bank. So what we've done is reverse this offset on the new engine so that the right bank is forward, and the left bank is back.”

Engine cylinders head covers

Engine cylinders head covers

Photo by: Honda

Asaki said that Honda had to address all the key parameters in order to stay competitive with its main rivals.

“Another point that we've had to think about is the fact that combustion efficiency has got better. And the camshaft output has got better. Due to the rules of physics the amount of energy that can be stored has changed, and it meant that the amount of exhaust energy has decreased.

“So compared to the recovery that we were getting last year, what we're having to do is increase the amount of crankshaft output, and at the same time ensure that there's a good level of exhaust output, exhaust temperature as well.

“So we've had a number of different development objectives, and we believe we have met them.”

Input from Red Bull Technology helped to ensure that nothing was left to chance.

“I believe that we were able to implement everything that we have to in order to compete with Mercedes,” said Asaki.

“We had a lot of cooperation from Red Bull, making sure that we could get the most from this new compact engine.

“This is the first time that we’ve gone as far as changing the structure of the PU itself.

“But I think the biggest challenge that we’ve had up to this point was back in the McLaren days, when we made big changes to the MGU-H, we changed the positioning of the compressor and turbine in relation to the V bank.”

Regarding the effort required from his team and the wider Honda company Asaki added: “I had acknowledged in some ways that it was an incredibly challenging target.

“But I think our engineers have had both the understanding that yes, we’ve only got a year left, but also we’ve got a full year left and we have to do something with that time, and they’ve worked hard during the time that we have had.”

shares
comments

Related video

The master manager who juggled Prost and Senna simultaneously

Previous article

The master manager who juggled Prost and Senna simultaneously

Next article

The lessons F1 learned from Berger's fiery Imola crash

The lessons F1 learned from Berger's fiery Imola crash
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Red Bull Racing
Author Adam Cooper
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix Prime

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix

Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings

The 2021 Portuguese GP will for several drivers go down as a weekend of missed opportunities amid imperfect track conditions that caused struggles with tyre warm-up. But the performances of a select few stood out from the crowd

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory Prime

The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory

Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Imola 1994: Memories from Ayrton Senna’s F1 rivals Prime

Imola 1994: Memories from Ayrton Senna’s F1 rivals

The tragic events of the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix changed Formula 1 forever. Here, 17 of the drivers who took part explain how they coped with the devastating deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna.

Formula 1
May 1, 2021
The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy Prime

The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy

Lewis Hamilton topped the crucial FP2 session on Friday as F1 returned to Portugal, but his Mercedes team cannot be sure it has the edge on its Red Bull rivals. As cool temperatures and wind combine with the still-slippery surface to present drivers with quandaries over set-up and tyre warmup, there's still everything to play for come qualifying.

Formula 1
May 1, 2021
How in-form Norris is staking his claim as Britain's next F1 champion Prime

How in-form Norris is staking his claim as Britain's next F1 champion

As a highly-rated Mercedes junior, George Russell is naturally billed as Lewis Hamilton's heir apparent where Britain's next Formula 1 champion is concerned. But he may face competition for that accolade from Lando Norris, fresh from a confidence-boosting run to third at Imola whose rise is being accelerated by his McLaren team’s revival

Formula 1
Apr 29, 2021