Crucial Friday test for power unit salvaged from Verstappen’s crash

2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Red Bull will run the power unit salvaged from Max Verstappen’s heavy British Grand Prix in Friday’s first practice session at the Hungaroring.

The run will provide the team with vital insight into whether the power unit sustained any damage in the 51G impact which resulted from Verstappen’s first-lap collision with Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen’s Honda RA621H power unit, the second he has used this season, was fitted to his car at the French Grand Prix. Drivers are limited to a maximum of three internal combustion engines, turbochargers, MGU-Hs and MGU-Ks for the 23-race season.

If Verstappen requires a new, third example of any of these parts, it will mean he is virtually guaranteed to exceed his maximum allocation later in the season, and therefore incur a 10-place grid penalty at minimum in a future race.

Last week Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the rest of Verstappen’s car had been “written off” following the crash at Copse.

The power unit was returned to Honda’s base in Sakura following the last race where it was inspected in line with the FIA’s restrictions on power unit testing. RaceFans understands the initial analysis did not reveal anything untoward, but a real-world test is needed to determine whether the unit can be relied on to withstand further use.

Teams typically fit new power units in time for the races at two of the most power-sensitive tracks the series visits, Spa and Monza, the first of which follows this weekend’s race in Hungary. This year these races form part of a triple-header, separated by Verstappen’s home race at Zandvoort.

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Author information

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
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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25 comments on “Crucial Friday test for power unit salvaged from Verstappen’s crash”

  1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    28th July 2021, 17:33

    I mean, the ICU seems (from the sideshot of VES’ car) to be protected by a lot of parts that I think can be changed (as they are not on the specific limited part list) but one would think the techy-bits wouldn’t survive such a massive impact.

    When a phone drops from 30 centimeters, which is hardly a 51G crash, it’s sometimes a writeoff already. I would be very surprised if it manages to run just fine on friday. And even then: will it run the trainings, qualifying AND full race? I highly doubt it.

    1. Engaging pedant mode: a phone dropping from 30cm could potentially experience g-forces in the thousands on impact. g-Force from an impact from a fall can be simply calculated by dividing the height by the stopping distance, with limited deformation on impact, the stopping distance will be very small.

      1. No it couldn’t: gravity is a constant. 9.81m/s/s is the rate of acceleration, so in 30cm, it would not have even reached a velocity of 4m/s, whereas if Verstappen hit the barriers at 140mph, he was still doing over 60m/s

        1. And you’ve completely ignored the deceleration distance the poster was exemplifying.

          The phone on a hard surface will decelerate from 4ms-0 in say 2mm assuming it chips glass as it bounces.
          Verstappens engine went from 60ms-0 in in 2-4 meters thanks to tyre barrier deformation.

          That example means the phone experiences 150x more G than the Engine, so over 7000G.

        2. 9.81 is an approximation, it varies depending on your location on the planet and distance from it but we digress. g-force is related to gravity only in that the forces are using it as an equivalent to provide context. Gravity actually has nothing to do with the forces being described.

          The speed an object initially moving isn’t the issue, it’s the rate of change of speed that is being represented by g-forces. A phone falling from a height of 30cm and decelerating to 0m/s in 0.1mm will experience 300g even though the maximum velocity is approx. 4m/s.

          1. Was typing my reply when Ed posted.

  2. If a real world test is required then the factory test ain’t worth squat.

    1. Factory test according to fia rules.
      No disassembling allowed. So only test bench.

    2. Rob (@realnigelmansell)
      28th July 2021, 18:10

      I think the factory test’s whole point is to see whether a real world test is even worth it. Isn’t that how basically every applied science field works?

  3. After test ban they should consider applying a repair ban, or at least introduce repair tokens! Last car running should win the championship. Stop the madness! Let them use all their resources!

    1. JK sort of like a demolition derby yes?

      1. I’m fed up with F1 testing restrictions. A team has to wait for two weeks to check the condition of the engine, after an accident! Thanks God they don’t restrict the health checks of the driver!

        Reply moderated
  4. SheriffBufordTJustice
    28th July 2021, 20:02

    Wow, turning in on Hamilton like that really exposed a weakness, not just in the engine, but the collective temperaments of the ownership/upper mismanagement structure. I mean, they’re really vulnerable now.

    1. Max should be very careful when racing Lewis for the rest of this year. 2021 might be his very best chance of winning a WDC. From next year he’ll have Norris, Russell and Leclerc, all at least as fast as Max, in cars capable of beating a Red Bull. And there’s still Hamilton in a Merc.

      1. Rob (@realnigelmansell)
        29th July 2021, 1:28

        Yes, he should after lewis made a rookie mistake and sent max into the wall. If you’re that confident that Norris and Russell are ‘at least as fast as Max,’ though, it’s hard to take what you’re saying too seriously. I like all 3 and hope they all have successful careers, but you seem to have a strong bias

        1. To: Green Flag and Rob,

          One point that should not be missed, Hamilton did not make a ‘rookie’ mistake, he is very skillful at pushing others off the track and, the moment he makes contact, he yells into his radio to the team and others that whoever his front wheel touched, turned into him. This scenario was common in the years leading up to Nico Rosberg’s championship in 2016. This is probably one of the prime reasons Nico retired that year.

          I expect we will witness numerous similar situations this year – Hamilton is now desperate for his eighth WDC.

          I really hope that we get fair racing from now on.

    2. Despite the dominance of Mercedes on previous years, Red Bull need to start behaving like they’re leading the championship and not the challenger. Max is having a good run this season so far, and Red Bull seem to have the pace on many tracks. They need to play the long game.

  5. Imagine if Hungary also had Friday Qualifying and Saturday Sprint thing?
    Would Redbull risk running a potentially broken engine and risk missing Qualifying if they do not manage to swap engines in time? Would they need special dispensation to take part in the Friday Qualifying if they do use a brand new engine?

    1. Good question. The sprint race already put extra stress on the 3 engine rule. In your scenario the damage would increase enormous.

  6. They should be thankful that it’s not a “sprint” format weekend or they wouldn’t even have an opportunity to test the PU.

    Even the shortened 1 hour practice is barely enough time for a proper assessment.

    My guess is that overall it will make very little difference as I expect both RBR and Mercedes to have a need to exceed their allocations anyway because both are having to push them much harder this year to compete.

  7. Jack (@jackisthestig)
    29th July 2021, 5:00

    I was in the grandstand at Copse and I cannot believe they would be able to use that power unit again. The crash structures on the side of the cockpit had completely disappeared, such was the severity of the impact. The radiator and all the various bits and pieces from the side pods were pressed into the side of the fuel tank and although the engine is quite small and well shielded further back and the rear suspension mounted to the gearbox was relatively intact it would be astonishing to see that power unit run again.

    1. Very interesting, Thanks for that! @jackisthestig

  8. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    29th July 2021, 5:59

    After Spa 2016 where Hamilton got 3 new engines from each free practice, there was a tweak in the rules which closed this loophole. Does anyone have any info on that?

    1. Only that you can replace a engine if it’s really failed so no spares. So if this one fails he get his third engine…

      1. But still can use the other two (if they still work)
        The first engine was already on practice duty.

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