Honda Formula 1 chief Toyoharu Tanabe says a "clear performance gap" remains to Mercedes' power units at the front of the field heading to this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix.

Honda recorded its first F1 podium finish since 2008 as Max Verstappen took third place in Australia two weeks ago, marking a successful start to the Japanese manufacturer's new partnership with Red Bull Racing.

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While Tanabe was pleased with the result and the breakthrough for Honda, he said there was still a big gap to Mercedes at the front of the pack that required evaluation in the aftermath of the race.

"It was good to finish third in the season opener in Australia, our first podium finish since 2008. However, we saw a clear performance gap to the winning team both in qualifying and the race," said Tanabe.

"Therefore as soon as we returned to our facilities in the UK and Japan, we began a detailed analysis of all the data we gathered from our four cars in Melbourne and continued our PU development work for this weekend and further races.

"We now head to Bahrain and the Sakhir circuit, which is more representative of a normal permanent circuit, after the unusual Albert Park track which is more of a stop-go street circuit.

"The Sakhir track also has quite a long straight, which means that, by the end of the weekend, we should have a better idea of the ability and potential of both our car-PU packages."



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