Kurt Verlin
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Honda May Have Rescued Verstappen’s Engine

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Max Verstappen leads Sergio Perez in the Red Bull-Honda RB16b at the 2021 French Grand Prix
Photo: Honda

Despite sustaining an enormous crash at the British Grand Prix, the power unit in Max Verstappen’s Formula 1 car may have survived to race another day.

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In 2021, F1 teams have a limited allocation of major power unit components. Throughout the course of the entire season, each driver must use no more than the following:

  • 8 engine exhaust systems
  • 3 internal combustion engines
  • 3 turbochargers
  • 3 motor generator units (kinetic)
  • 3 motor generator units (heat)
  • 2 electronic control units
  • 2 energy store

Should a driver need to use more components than the prescribed amount, they receive a grid penalty — 10 places for the first infraction and five places for any subsequent parts, unless they change more than one part at once, at which point it goes back up to 10 places.

In a tight championship, such grid penalties can swing a title fight; but, miraculously, Honda may have managed to rescue Verstappen’s power unit without changing any of the limited parts. Red Bull Racing sent it to Japan for overhaul where Honda replaced components but not any of those in the list above, which the FIA can verify by checking seals it placed beforehand. The team will test the unit on Friday to see if will be okay to run for the rest of the season.

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For Red Bull Racing, this new development could mark a return to fortune after the disastrous weekend at Silverstone. Today, the team will also press the FIA to reexamine the crash and potentially increase Lewis Hamilton’s penalty.

“Anything is possible: that Hamilton’s penalty will be increased, reduced or that he will even be acquitted completely. Our only concern is that the new findings are taken into account. And that Max clearly sees that we are fully behind him,” said Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr. Helmut Marko. “Honda has now given the green light for the accident engine. It can continue to be used. That means we no longer have to worry about getting a grid penalty at some point.”

Still, even if the engine runs well on Friday, I would be surprised if Red Bull risked using it during a race right away. We already got in Monaco, earlier this year, an example of a team believing its power unit to be race-ready, only for it to fail before the lights even went out.