Despite carrying out a thorough analysis, Honda is yet to assess whether Max Verstappen’s power unit from Silverstone crash is raceable in the remainder of the season.
Following a fierce battle in Formula One’s inaugural Spring Qualifying, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton came together on the opening lap for the British Grand Prix when the pair approached the high-speed Copse corner.
The Red Bull driver was taken out of the race in a 51G impact that required a hospital visit for precautionary checks. The crash caused a huge damage to the Red Bull car, leaving the team with a bill for a whopping £1.3million ($1.8 million) to repair the damage.
The FIA stewards found that Hamilton was guilty in the accident. The seven-time world champion was handed a ten-second penalty, albeit he could still win the race and cut Verstappen’s championship lead down to just eight points.
The incident has had a huge impact on Red Bull Racing’s and Verstappen’s title aspirations. The Milton Keynes-based outfit and the Dutch driver have lost their eye-catching advantage in the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships and the financial loss has also been less than ideal in the era of F1’s cost cap. Furthermore, the championship leader's power unit has also suffered some damage, but Honda is not sure of its degree.
Commenting on the work carried out after the British Grand Prix, Honda said: “The PU was sent back to Sakura for thorough checks. We also replaced certain parts, as allowed in the regulations, without breaking the FIA seals.
“We will use the engine this Friday to give it a proper track test, after which we should have a clearer picture of its viability as a race engine.”
Should Honda come to the conclusion that Verstappen’s second power unit is not raceable anymore, the Dutch driver would be forced to start using his third PU in Budapest. With drivers only allowed to use a maximum of three internal combustion engines in 2021, that would definitely force Honda to install a fourth unit into Verstappen’s car later on during the season, which would result in a grid-drop penalty.
Speaking of the challenges of the Hungaroring, which hosts Round 11 of the 2021 F1 season, Honda Racing F1 boss Toyoharu Tanabe added: “After four races at relatively high-speed tracks in France, Austria and England, we now come to the Hungaroring.
"It’s a very different, much slower and technical type of circuit with just one short straight and many slow corners, making overtaking difficult so that qualifying position is very important.
“We are well used to it being very hot here and combined with the fact that car runs at relatively low speeds, it’s a feature of this event that cooling is an important factor that we have to consider, when optimising our settings. We very much want to finish the first half of the year before summer shutdown with a good race result for all four of our drivers and we have been working hard since Silverstone to prepare for that.