Honda see similarities in development of Brawn and Red Bull cars

Finley Crebolder
Jenson Button, Brawn

Honda say there are similarities in how the manufacturer developed what would turn out to be the 2009 Brawn car and the Red Bull ones. 

The Japanese company won their first World Championship since 1991 in 2021 with Max Verstappen in his Honda-powered Red Bull beating Lewis Hamilton to the title in a titanic battle that went down to the wire.

While it was the first time in 30 years that they’d been part of a title-winning team though, they did play a big part in the development of a title-winning car just over a decade earlier.

When they left the sport in 2009, they sold their team and the car they’d been working on to Ross Brawn and his own team, who would go on to win both titles with it.

Remembering how he and his colleagues developed that car with the works team, technical director Toyoharu Tanabe sees similarities to how the AlphaTauri and Red Bull cars are worked on.

“In 2007 and 2008 the chassis side and the engine side worked really closely to make the 2009 car,” Tanabe told The Race.

“With Toro Rosso and Red Bull, I feel kind of the same. We tell each other what we want to do and then make a compromise for the decision, what is the best for the car performance.

“We worked really closely, with an open mind. And then we are very comfortable working with a different experience than just ‘team and PU supplier’.”

Honda started supplying Red Bull and their sister team with engines after a disastrous initial return to the sport with McLaren that saw the British team become one of the backmarkers of the grid.

Things immediately went better with their new partners but Tanabe feels it wasn’t until they ironed out the reliability issues that they really started to kick on and develop their power unit.

“We spent a lot of time fixing problems,” says Tanabe.


“It was kind of a negative development, always trying to recover something. Then I feel in 2018-19, we could move into a positive development cycle. We achieved some level of reliability, then we started to have time to develop the performance more than previous.

“That’s a big change.”


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