With the upcoming home grand prix in Japan, Honda introduced its latest specification power unit on all cars powered by the products of the Japanese engine manufacturer. The switch to a brand-new engine means that Toro Rosso and Red Bull drivers have to sacrifice another race after further exceeding their engine allocations.
Honda concentrates on home grand prix – Honda brought its spec 4 power unit to Russia and installed in to all four cars powered by the Sakura-based engine-maker. In the relentless pursuit of performance and reliability, Honda intend to continue decreasing the gap to the current leading engine manufacturer Ferrari in terms of outright power. Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon received their fifth internal combustion engine and with both of them having already started using some components of the fifth power unit, they were both given a five-place grid drop penalty. Daniil Kvyat got his fifth ICE, turbocharger, MGU-H and MGU-K for his home grand prix and as a result of this he is required to start the race from the rear of the starting grid.
Complicated qualifying – Home hero Daniil Kvyat ran into troubles during the third and final practice session for the Russian Grand Prix. His brand-new spec 4 Honda power unit failed just a few laps into the session, prompting the Toro Rosso team to replace the new unit for another new power unit. As the Russian was required to start the race from the back of the grid following the installation of the sixth power unit, the Italian outfit decided to complete the engine change at a comfortable speed, missing the qualifying session with Kvyat. The Faenza-based squad’s chief engineer Claudio Balestri said that the team had mixed feelings today. “On Dany’s side of the garage, we had an issue on the PU at the start of FP3 and we were forced to change it. As the process requires quite a lot of time and having to start already from the back of the grid due to a previous engine change penalty, we decided not to rush the job and skip Qualifying – it wouldn’t have worsened our grid situation for tomorrow,” he said.
Too fast – Pierre Gasly was fined EUR900 after failing to adhere to the speed limit in the pit lane. During the third free practice session, the Frenchman exceeded the pit lane speed limit which is set at 60 km/h for this Event by 8.9 km/h.
Fresh Mercedes engine – ROKiT Williams Racing driver Robert Kubica was also given a new engine for this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix. The Pole suffered an engine-related issue at Spa at the end of August which made it inevitable to install a fresh unit for the remainder of the season. As the FW42 was fitted with the fourth internal combustion engine, fourth turbocharger and the fourth MGU-H at Sochi, Kubica is required to start the race from the back of the grid.
Evaluating - As the Russian Grand Prix takes place just a few days after the previous event in Singapore, teams did not bring any major upgrades to Sochi bar the track-specific parts. After introducing a new front wing design, Racing Point used the Friday practice sessions as a test as the Silverston-based squad was keen to evaluate the upgrade on a proper purpose-built race track. Team principal Otmar Szafnauer sounded optimistic about the results gained through the two sessions. “The track evolved quite significantly throughout the first session, during which we were carrying out a substantial aero test programme. It was a good opportunity to continue evaluating the car parts that were introduced in Singapore. That all went quite smoothly,”
New gearboxes – Two drivers have started the Russian Grand Prix weekend with a new gearbox, but neither of them will get a penalty for the change. Kevin Magnussen completed the last six events with the same unit which enabled the Dane to receive a fresh one for Round 16 of the Championship. The gearbox on Sergio Perez’ car was replaced for a spare one during the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, enabling the Racing Point outfit to install a fresh unit to the Mexican’s car.