The Japanese producer launched a brand new engine for this yr forward of its departure from the game on the finish of the season, earlier than Crimson Bull takes over its growth from 2022.

The brand new engine is smaller and extra highly effective, and each Crimson Bull and AlphaTauri have taken a step ahead judging by their efficiency in pre-season testing and within the first race in Bahrain.

“I have to say Honda did a incredible job in Sakura, as a result of this new energy unit is far more highly effective and higher drivable because it was prior to now,” stated Tost in Bahrain, the place Pierre Gasly certified fifth.

“I believe that Honda is de facto very, very near Mercedes. And I can solely say thanks to the Japanese engineers, as a result of they did a incredible job.”

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Gasly struggled within the race after damaging his entrance wing and ground in an incident with McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo firstly. The French driver retired his automotive with 4 laps to go, however rookie teammate Yuki Tsunoda completed ninth on his grand prix debut.

Regardless of leaving Bahrain with simply two factors, Tost stays satisfied that AlphaTauri has progressed in all areas, though he concedes the midfield group is extraordinarily tight this yr.

“We improved in each facet,” he stated. “However we should not neglect our opponents as properly. In the event you look to McLaren, they’ve the Mercedes energy unit, they’re very robust.

“For me, at present, Crimson Bull, Mercedes are on the identical degree, perhaps Crimson Bull is even sooner. Then I see McLaren coming. And we see then what is going on on with Ferrari. However we’re near Ferrari and to the remainder.

“It is a query of hundredths of a second. We improved however the others improved as properly. The query is now who did a greater job? And this I can reply on the finish of the season.”

He added: “I would like two, three races to get a greater image. However it’s very tight and I believe will probably be the identical recreation as final yr.”

Tost sees no motive why the optimistic development cannot proceed within the second race of 2021 at Imola.

“I count on the identical for Imola. We’ll then see what is going on on in Portimao,” Tost stated. “However typically talking the automotive is quick, hopefully additionally dependable, and we now have a robust package deal collectively.

“The staff is turning into extra skilled now. We fortuitously did not have any fluctuation from the engineering aspect, which is essential, and likewise on the operational aspect we now have a robust crew collectively now.

“And we now have two actual quick drivers. Pierre, with extra expertise, and Yuki as a newcomer, as a rookie, however I believe that he’s studying quick and this mix ought to assist us to convey collectively a extra aggressive package deal because it was final yr.”

The staff scored its first F1 win below the AlphaTauri title final yr, when Gasly triumphed within the Italian Grand Prix.

Further reporting by Erwin Jaeggi