The Japanese producer launched a brand new engine for this 12 months forward of its departure from F1 on the finish of the season, earlier than Purple Bull takes over its improvement from 2022.
The brand new engine is smaller and extra highly effective, and each Purple Bull and AlphaTauri have taken a step ahead judging by their performances in pre-season testing and within the first race in Bahrain.
“I need 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 up to now,” stated Tost in Bahrain, the place Pierre Gasly certified in fifth place.
“I feel that Honda is admittedly very, very near Mercedes. And I can solely say thanks to the Japanese engineers, as a result of they did a incredible job.”
Gasly struggled within the race after damaging his entrance wing and ground in an incident with McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo in the beginning.
The French driver retired his automobile with 4 laps to go, however rookie team-mate Yuki Tsunoda completed ninth on his grand prix debut.
Max Verstappen, Purple Bull Racing RB16B, Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT02
Picture by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
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 12 months.
“We improved in each side,” he stated. “However we should not overlook our rivals as nicely. Should you look to McLaren, they’ve the Mercedes energy unit, they’re very sturdy.
“For me, at present, Purple Bull, Mercedes are on the identical degree, possibly Purple 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 nicely. 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. But it surely’s very tight and I feel it will likely be the identical recreation as final 12 months.”
Tost sees no cause 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 automobile is quick, hopefully additionally dependable, and we have now a powerful bundle collectively.
“The workforce is turning into extra skilled now. Luckily, we did not have any fluctuation from the engineering aspect, which is essential, and likewise on the operational aspect we have now a powerful crew collectively now.
“And we have now two actual quick drivers. Pierre, with extra expertise, and Yuki as a newcomer, as a rookie, however I feel that he’s studying quick and this mixture ought to assist us to convey collectively a extra aggressive bundle because it was final 12 months.”
The workforce scored its first F1 win beneath the AlphaTauri title final 12 months, when Gasly triumphed within the Italian Grand Prix.