Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff says that the Honda engine looks 'very powerful' ahead of the Japanese manufacturer's first season with Red Bull Racing. Red Bull opted to end its long-standing partnership with Renault in the face of poor results.
Honda spent the 2018 season with its junior outfit, Toro Rosso. In a somewhat successful year, it scored a fourth-place finish at the Bahrain Grand Prix - Honda's best result since it returned to F1 in 2015 with McLaren.
While Honda is steadily improving, Wolff believes that the biggest change will come from the new aerodynamic regulations that will be enforced this year, including simpler front wings, revised bargeboards and steeper, higher rear wings.
"Yeah it could well be because we have seen there is no more pattern any more. There is not one team that dominates one kind of circuit. It has changed and Honda’s engine certainly looks very powerful now.
"But I think that the biggest impact will be the completely new aerodynamic regulations. That will change everything upside down. Somebody might find a loophole or a regulation or understand how these cars work earlier than others so I think there is a big, big variable in those new regulations. We will have teams right up there that are not on the radar today."
Mercedes enter the 2019 season on the back of five consecutive world championships. The Silver Arrows has not yet announced when it will launch its latest challenge, while rivals Ferrari will unveil their car on February 15th.
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing