Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Hungaroring, 2021

Honda replace Verstappen’s engine ahead of Hungarian Grand Prix

2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Honda has replaced Max Verstappen’s power unit ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, citing concerns over the damage it suffered in his crash at Silverstone two weeks ago.

The Red Bull driver will switch to his third new power unit and therefore will not incur a grid penalty.

Honda took the engine to its power unit facility at Sakura in Japan after Verstappen’s 51G impact with the barrier at Silverstone. After running it in practice on Friday, the Japanese manufacturer gave it the all-clear.

However following further checks on Saturday, Honda has decided not to use the engine in today’s race.

“During post-qualifying checks we noticed something on Max’s PU which might have developed over the course of the weekend, likely to be an after-effect of the Silverstone crash,” said Honda in a statement.

“We have therefore changed it for a new PU of the same specification. According to the regulations, Max is allowed to start from his third position on the grid with no penalty incurred.”

Honda already fitted a new exhaust to Verstappen’s power unit on Friday and replaced its control electronics yesterday. He will start today’s race from third on the grid.

Verstappen is the fifth driver to take his final penalty-free power unit change this year. Carlos Sainz Jnr, George Russell, Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon have also switched to their third units. Drivers incur an automatic penalty if they use a fourth or further engines.

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2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

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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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24 comments on “Honda replace Verstappen’s engine ahead of Hungarian Grand Prix”

  1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    1st August 2021, 10:26

    The Red Bull driver will switch back to his previous power unit

    We have therefore changed it for a new PU of the same specification

    The wording from Honda make it sound more like adding the final (third) one to the pool and use that

    1. Sorry that’s my error – have revised.

    2. Confusing. Is it new or used? Refurbished? Second hand? Hold but new? New butt hol…??????

        1. New engine, old design.

          Engine manufacturers are free to develop their engines throughout the year, but with only 3 engines allowed, if they develop a new engine it counts as one of the 3 engines in the “pool” of engines available to use.

          Honda have been unable to do this, so the engine is brand new but otherwise identical to the previous one.

          Any improvements made, if they want to be implemented, will need to be a 4th engine in the pool and so will incur a penalty.

  2. So as long as the engine is the same specs, they can use as many as they want?

    1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
      1st August 2021, 10:58

      Nah, they are still limited to 3 engines (ICU’s at least) per season. Same spec is merely refering to the ‘spec 2’ that they introduced the race after Baku (or during) with increased reliability.

      Basically means that any new engine later this year that they had planned (again with some better reliability as that’s the only thing they can increase this season because of regulations) will also come with a grid penalty.

    2. Only 3 Engines are allowed, some components are restricted to 2 only for entire season.

    3. They van use 3 amd always have to be the same spec.

      1. @cdfemke They do have a limit of three engines, but as the article explained, the engine manufacturer can introduce updates on an unused engine (as Honda have already done once this season).

  3. amazing what you can get away with a 10 seconds penalty

    1. They will get 10 place grid penalty for 4th ICE, teams use 3rd ICE at any moment they see fit.

  4. Ok I got it, still early here and I’m only on my 1st cup of Java.

  5. Hamilton is on his second?

    Can’t see Verstappen making it to the end of season with just one PU.

    Grid drops en route.

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      1st August 2021, 11:18

      @aldehydeuk Yep Hamilton is on his second. However he took it one race earlier than Verstappen (in Baku, Max took his second in France), and the general consensus at that point was Hamilton/Merc would have to take a grid drop before the end of the season as well. But yes it’s gonna be a struggle for Max.

    2. Yes, I thkink Mercedes drivers will take a grid drop until the end of the season too.
      It seems too long, if most of the planned races will be held.

      Actually I always wondered, why some teams and manufacturers not trying to make a coup, with intentionally using up more engines than the others. At some other sources I have read about 10Million$+ / power unit prices a bit before, if that is true the less rich teams would not do that. But as this figure is likely lower, and it refers to all parts of the unit, of which some are more reliable, or less problematic than the internal combustion engine.
      So I think if an effort to intentionally use up 4 or 5 ICEs is executed with a good mixture of secrecy, and well timed rethorics it could be kept in secret until mid season or later.
      But for example what would happen if a bit better than this season McLaren would want to do so, and challenge Mercedes. When they would / should ask for the 4th or 5th unit? :) If at pre season that is not a coup.

      1. Not only do the teams have to make three engines last 23 scheduled races, but then three sprint races were added. I imagine nearly all the teams will end up taking engine penalties.

  6. RandomMallard (@)
    1st August 2021, 11:16

    Does this not break Parc Ferme? They can fit the new PU no problem without a penalty, but does this not break parc ferme after qualifying? Or is this covered by “genuine accident damage”?

  7. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    1st August 2021, 11:17

    Isn’t the car in parc ferme at the start of qualifying? Didn’t know engine changes were allowed before the race.

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      1st August 2021, 11:19

      @asleepatthewheel This is what I was wondering. Unless they can count it as “genuine accident damage” or a safety hazard, in which case it can be covered without a pit lane start.

      1. And putting in a new engine with no possibility to test it, looks like taking a lot of risk.

  8. Engine, TC, MGU-H, MGU-K, and EX, not an entire PU, but yes, he’s at risk of a grid-drop penalty at some point.

  9. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    1st August 2021, 12:05

    It’s quite obvious that all teams will need more than 3 engines this season.

    Why not revise the rules in advance to avoid those penalties? Once a single driver serves a penalty it’s going to be too late.

    No one wants to see drivers get penalties during the races regardless of the team/driver you support as it runs the risk of making a race less enjoyable. It appears that 4 is the minimum and 5 is probably be the right number for this season. I think as the number of races goes up, the number of engines might also go up due to unlikely failures becoming more like likely.

  10. According to Helmut Marko the engine is considered as write off, a crack in engine block close to the gearbox.

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