Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has claimed the winter progress of Red Bull power unit supplier Honda is “good motivation” for the reigning champions.
Honda announced last year that the 2021 season will be it’s last in Formula 1 after only returning to the sport in 2015.
After initially struggling with poor reliability whilst allied to McLaren, Honda has gone from strength to strength, claiming a total of six race victories. Of this number, Max Verstappen has taken five with Pierre Gasly also successful with AlphaTauri.
“It’s good motivation for us and I am happy for them,” Wolff said.
He added: “Honda has done a great job. They have delivered a power unit that is extremely competitive, look at where AlphaTauri is, and we just have to take it as sportsmen. This is as it looks.
“You just have to say they have done a really good job. Full stop.
“But there is just no other solution than to recover and I believe that on the derates that is not easy but we will get there.”
Mercedes has enjoyed the strongest power unit on the grid since the introduction of the V6 turbo hybrid specifications.
Although victorious with Lewis Hamilton in the season-opener, the pace of both Red Bull and AlphaTauri led to questions being asked as to whether Honda had now overtaken the German manufacturer.
Asked if the leap forward from Honda had surprised him, Wolff answered: “No. I am actually not at all surprised.
“I think Honda is a very proud company and I was convinced that they would give it all the power to have a great power unit in the final year as a works team and I think they left no stone unturned, no resource unutilised to finish the job properly.
“It’s good motivation for us and I am happy for them.”