Honda still not decided on Malaysia upgrade

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Honda has not yet decided whether they will introduce their latest power unit upgrade in the McLarens at this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

Both the team’s drivers have already used the maximum permitted five examples of each type of power unit component, meaning they will have to take a grid penalty if they do use new parts this weekend.

However Honda may prefer to take the upgrade and penalties this weekend in order to avoid a grid demotion at the next round, their home race at Suzuka.

“We are not 100 per cent certain if we will install any power unit updates for this race,” said Honda’s research and development chief Yusuke Hasegawa. “We’ll look to make our final decision at the track based on the balance of performance and reliability.”

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier expects a competitive weekend for the team at the Sepang circuit but admits reliability will be a concern at one of the hottest races on the calendar.

“If we can achieve reliability on both sides of the garage, I’m hopeful for a positive weekend,” he said.

“We’ve proved recently that our package is a firm contender in the midfield pack and we have the potential to finish ahead of some strong teams, so we’ll keep fighting to maintain our position and move closer to the front of the grid.”

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    Keith Collantine
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    13 comments on “Honda still not decided on Malaysia upgrade”

    1. Take the hit and upgrade. You will still be in the mid-field if it works out, so you have nothing to lose.

    2. Why don’t they do what Hamilton and Mercedes did at Spa and fit a new engine at every race until the end of the year?

      That’s a loophole worth exploiting with McLaren-Honda’s current form.

      1. They have to actually develop the engine. Mercs already have an engine they like, they just wanted more. Honda is deciding whether to introduce an upgrade. They have to decide whether the advantage of being able to develop it for a little longer is better than the pay-off of being able to use it soon. This depends on how much more they think they can do in two weeks. Neither of us are in a position to know what they are trying to change in the engine and what the extra benefit of that will be.

    3. Ryan Fairweather
      26th September 2016, 14:40

      They should just fit a new one every race and go all out. I’m really surprised ferrari haven’t decided when at a race with a new engine to just turn it up to 11 for the whole weekend and win, but then just take a hit at the next race.

      1. They can’t, because in Ferrari’s case their fight with Red Bull is far to close to risk a DNF through an overly-worn engine part.

        It would be great if the pinnacle of a sport was as simple as you’re implying, but then it probably wouldn’t be the pinnacle…

      1. Bojack Manhorse
        26th September 2016, 16:18

        This I feel is something desperately missing from contemporary F1. The limitations on the number of engines and other components permitted per year mean manufacturers are testing engines to last 5 races, which means they are only on the limit once every five races. I remember watching races where there was still an element of tension, almost hope that a dominating driver’s uncontested Grand Prix win could be cut cruelly short by reliability. Even as recently as 2010, as an Alonso fan the last 20 laps of Abu Dhabi still entailed an element of finger crossing that the notorious Renault reliability would strike again.

        Sure, it’s about cost saving, but (and this is a question I honestly don’t have a clue about) how much of an engine manufacturers budget is spent on manufacturing compared to R&D? Given the research costs are the same when trying to build an engine that lasts five races instead of one, with respect to stress testing the components, is that much money really saved by producing fewer engines?

        I truly miss the back of the mind tension of hoping a driver’s car might give out. Does it make for good racing? Probably not. But is tragic misfortune and plucky drives aided by the unreliability of others (think Monaco 1996) part of what makes sport so compelling to watch sometimes? In my easily pleased opinion, without a doubt. It’s good for the ‘show’, yes, but I suspect the manufacturers quite like the new format where their PR image isn’t hampered by semi regular engine blowouts. Which is a shame.

        1. Bojack Manhorse, it is an interesting thing though, because the idea of making engines a “disposable” item, as it were, was a phenomenon that only really came in during the 1980’s, and even then it mainly only applied to qualifying engines – quite a lot of components for a race engine would be recycled between rebuilds. Up until then, most drivers would normally only have a couple of engines for an entire season, and the idea of throwing engines away was inconceivable given the cost of producing them.

      2. The button one in melbourne (06 i think) is spectacular as well

    4. I don’t see why Honda has their heads scratching over this one. Rarely does both of their drivers make it in to points. They should strap a new engine at the back of one of their cars and take a hit at Malaysia so that the particular driver will have a better engine for their home race.

      They’re probably debating this issue because the new engine spec probably doesn’t improve the performance much anyways.

      1. even if the upgrade isn’t that much of an upgrade, they should still take the penalty now. it would be worse to try and coax what little life is left out of the existing engine(s) and end up finishing the race in malaysia, only to have a moribund engine for their most important race of the year (and one they could score well in if they qualify well). plus, it’s easier to come through the field at sepang.

        i think they should take an engine penalty even if they don’t have the upgrade ready i.e. change to an existing spec engine, for exactly the same reasons.

        1. spafrancorchamps
          27th September 2016, 9:55

          That, plus the high chance of rain on raceday, which should make it easier to storm through the field.

        2. I think they are undecided, as they expect to be more competitive in Malaysia, so would not want a penalty.

          Agree with Todfod, install the engine in one of the cars, whichever, is likely to require new components first, and leave the other one until another race

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