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Red Bull must ensure Honda is connected to the reality of Formula 1 and has its priorities in order if the engine manufacturer is to succeed again, says Ross Brawn.
Honda has convinced Red Bull it is capable of producing an engine that can fight for the world championship, after spending a season rebuilding its reputation with the junior Toro Rosso team.
F1’s V6 turbo-hybrid engines tempted Honda to rejoin the grid in 2015 as McLaren’s partner, but poor reliability and performance undermined its comeback and despite an improved ’18 Honda remains without a podium since its works team folded in ’08.
F1 managing director of motorsport Brawn, who was team principal at Honda when the manufacturer withdrew, told Autosport: “The secret to success with Honda is sort of connecting the engineers to the Formula 1 challenges.
“When I arrived at Honda, the engineers were a little bit remote from the reality of what was needed.
“My job was to connect the engineers and make sure they were working on the right things and they had the priorities, the information, the real picture about what was happening.
“When I arrived there was a view that their engine was one of the best. Because I was familiar with the Ferrari, it was clear it wasn’t one of the best.
“So connecting the Honda people with the real situation, helping them understand what the priorities are, and understanding where they should be focused, was one of the important elements.
“I think Red Bull will be very good at making sure Honda have that clarity of what should be focused on.”
One of the factors that helped Honda convinced Red Bull to switch from Renault was a leadership reshuffle that involved Toyoharu Tanabe taking charge of Honda’s trackside operations and life-long Honda engine guru Yasuaki Asaki being placed in command at its Sakura base.
Together, they have helped Honda improve the coordination of its priorities as well as execute its plans better.
Honda has pledged to be more vocal with Red Bull after enjoying a better level of communication with Toro Rosso following the three years with McLaren.
Brawn said: “Knowing exactly what your weaknesses are, exactly what your strengths are, and making sure you’re focused on the right things [is important].
“If that is achieved then they will undoubtedly be in a strong position.
“It seems as though they’ve made a lot of progress this year. I think the relationship with McLaren had broken down and it was right for them to move on.
“Red Bull are a terrific racing company and they do great cars. It’s a special opportunity for Honda to succeed.
“I expect Red Bull to continue winning races. Whether there is enough there yet, in the first year of the partnership, to win championship, I don’t know.
“It would be pretty special if they did, but I think next season will be the first of a new partnership that is going to bring world championships.”