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
Listen to this article

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
The bold F1 DRS experiment that could end the debate forever Prime

The bold F1 DRS experiment that could end the debate forever

OPINION: The effectiveness of DRS in Formula 1 remains a topic of debate as the winter break gives a chance for reflection on the racing we saw in 2022. For all of its detractors, perhaps an experiment where DRS is cast aside and the impact this has on racing is in order to truly understand its merits in modern F1.

The sliding doors moment that saved Red Bull and Porsche Prime

The sliding doors moment that saved Red Bull and Porsche

OPINION: Everything looked set for Red Bull and Porsche to join forces for the 2026 season, before the marriage between both parties was called off. While at the time it looked like a major coup for Formula 1 in gaining both VW Group powerhouses Audi and Porsche for 2026, Red Bull and Porsche have really been spared a potentially fractious relationship.

How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive Prime

How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive

Glory days for Tyrrell became increasingly infrequent
 after Jackie Stewart’s retirement. But in the latest instalment of his history of the team for Autosport's sister title GP Racing, 
MAURICE HAMILTON recalls how Ken Tyrrell’s plucky and defiantly small team stayed bold enough to innovate – springing a surprise with F1’s first six-wheeled car

Formula 1
Dec 6, 2022
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Prime

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Motorsport.com in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi.

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Prime

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Prime

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon Prime

The physical focus bringing out the best from Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s teammate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy Prime

How Red Bull's dynamic leader Mateschitz shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022