Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Red Bull changes power unit on day two but plans to avoid penalties once season starts

2020 F1 season

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Red Bull changed its power unit as a precaution on the second day of pre-season testing, but the team is aiming to avoid power unit penalties this year.

[f1tv2020testa]Both the team’s drivers incurred penalties for exceeding the maximum number of power unit components last season. Teams are limited to no more than three engines, turbochargers, MGU-Hs and MGU-Ks this season, and team principal Christian Horner wants to stick to that.

“We’re not planning a fourth engine at the moment,” he said. “The plan is to go through on the three.”

The maximum allocation of MGU-Ks was increased from two to three after the calendar was extended to 22 races. This will remain unchanged even if the postponed Chinese Grand Prix does not take place.

“If it becomes 21 races that obviously makes life slightly easier,” said Horner. “But if we were to have to take a fourth, so long as you take it at the right place, you can minimise the impact of that. We’d always chase performance over anything else.”

The team changed its power unit today but intends to revert to its original unit tomorrow.

“We did have a small issue just before lunch when the Honda guys noticed something in the data and we therefore elected to perform a precautionary engine change,” said head of race engineering Guillaume Rocqueline. “They’ve done a thorough check and there are no problems, so the original PU will be back in the car tomorrow.”

Horner said he is pleased with the progress the team has made ahead of its second season with the Japanese car manufacturer.

“We’ve had a good winter,” he said. “Last year was our first year with Honda. I think that relationship has just evolved and tightened throughout last year, over the winter also. So I think this whole package is more integrated.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
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8 comments on “Red Bull changes power unit on day two but plans to avoid penalties once season starts”

  1. Hm, that engine might be faster than the Ferrari engine and even the Mercedes engine. But if the team has to count in the real possibility that they will need another one to make it through the year, that shows the Honda is still not there – much like the Renault has been in recent years.

  2. If the Honda engine is powerful enough, RBR and AT can afford to take two new ones without loosing too many points.

    As long as they can choose where to take the penalties, of course. We’ve seen some good climbs last year, from 18th to 2nd, from 20th to 3rd, or the like.

    But if the championship is head to head, like we all expect it to be, 5 points can be too much. Or, like it seems it will be the case this year, the former midfield may not be so easy to pass now. We’re going to have the pink arrow and alpha bull siding with McLaren in the best of the rest. And Renault may want to join the party.

    1. I think Horner says the opposite and is not worried, and the issue was a false alarm.

      1. was supposed to be a reply to @bascbb above.

  3. i bet (and hope) still better than Renault..

  4. With the rules as I understand them (a challenging concept for me) a team can swap engines, for new units, twice without any penalties. It is only on the installation of a 4th PU or controlled item that you pay the price.
    This basically puts all the PU penalties towards the end of the season. You can bet that every team has a plan, to take penalties at strategic venues, if and when they need to. Usually the high power tracks, Monza, Spa, Canada where starting position has less of an impact.
    Looking for confirmation on this one … do the teams use older PUs for Friday practice once they are 5, 6 races into the calendar.? It would seem to make sense, but I haven’t heard that they do this.

    1. @rekibsn: Yes, all or most teams use older engines on Fridays, if available. And switch to a fresh PU, if available, before qualy and parc ferme rules apply.

    2. @rekibsn if you look closely it will often be mentioned on the Free practice stream/show that teams do indeed tend to use the older PU’s on the Friday.

      And indeed, most likely Red Bull will have a plan for that, though I suspect Mercedes, like last year (though Bottas had an issue so needed one) aims to not need a 4th PU, and I would think Ferrari also will not want to do that either if they can avoid it. If Red Bull are in the WDC/WCC fight, it still might be a problem to take that penalty this year for them too, as Only Facts! above explains

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