Honda says it is “encouraged” by the progress it has made during the opening pre-season Formula 1 test in Barcelona ahead of the 2019 season. 

For the first time since Honda’s return to F1 in 2015, the Japanese manufacturer has completed more mileage than any other engine manufacturer, with customer teams Red Bull and Toro Rosso racking up a combined total of 957 laps across the first four days of testing. 

Not only did both Red Bull and Toro Rosso enjoy strong reliability, there were impressive signs in terms of performance as Daniil Kvyat topped the times on Wednesday, while teammate Alexander Albon finished second on the final day of running at the Spanish Grand Prix venue. 

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It led Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko to claim that Red Bull - which switched from Renault to Honda power heading into 2019 - has never had such a good pre-season before. 

“For this first four-day pre-season test, working with both Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Honda, it was encouraging that we got through all our planned programme with both teams,” Honda F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe said. 

“As for today, everything went smoothly and we acquired a good amount of data. It’s the first time in the hybrid era that we are powering two teams and at this test, we learned a lot in terms of how to operate with them both. 

“There were no major issues with the power units throughout this test. Toro Rosso has completed 482 laps over the four days and Red Bull did 475, meaning that Honda PUs ran a total of 957 laps. 

“We will now spend the next few days analysing all the data we have acquired here, in order to move forward with development in the final four days of testing next week prior to the first race in Australia.”

Pierre Gasly, who enters his second year driving Honda-powered machinery having graduated to Red Bull from its senior team, believes the Japanese manufacturer has made progress over the winter. 

“I think it’s really good,” Gasly said. 

“Looking at Toro Rosso, they have been really fast with the Honda engine and we are happy with it as well. 

“There is still some work to be done but I think Honda did a really good job over the winter. Still a few things to come next week but the first four days have been really good.”

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