Kurt Verlin
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Verstappen & Perez Engines Irreparable, Honda Says

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Max Verstappen wins the Monaco Grand Prix
Photo: Honda

Unfortunately for Red Bull Racing’s title challenge, Honda has confirmed that Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez’s engines are irreparable after the damage they sustained at the British and Hungarian Grands Prix, respectively.

Championship rival Lewis Hamilton had crashed into Verstappen at the British Grand Prix in Silverstone, which led to a lot of controversy. At first, Honda believed Verstappen’s engine could still be operational despite sustaining a 51 g impact, and it was used in qualifying for the race in Hungary. However, Red Bull detected an issue with it overnight and as a precaution fitted Verstappen’s car with his third and final engine of the season, per the regulations.

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That race was a disaster for Red Bull Racing as Valtteri Bottas caused a crash with both of its drivers, heavily damaging Verstappen’s car and putting Pérez out of the race. To make matters worse, Honda has now revealed that Pérez’s engine was irreparably damaged in that incident, and confirmed that Verstappen’s second engine — the one he had when Hamilton crashed into him in the previous race — is indeed beyond repair as well.

That means both Red Bull Racing drivers are now on their third engine as they head to the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, the 12th of a planned 23 rounds in the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship. If either of the drivers needs to use an additional engine in the second half of the season, they’ll need to take grid penalties on the weekends they make the swap, which can have a big impact on race-day results.

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For an F1 engine to last that many races is a borderline impossible task. Christian Horner, team principal for Red Bull Racing, said there was “very little” hope that either driver would manage to get to the end of the season without needing a fourth engine. “That’s hugely frustrating for Honda because it’s not due to reliability, it’s because of accidents we haven’t caused,” he told Autosport. “So they’re feeling the brunt of this as well as we are on the chassis side.”

For Red Bull Racing, the next step will be deciding when to strategically take grid penalties such that the impact on race-day results is minimized as much as possible — and hoping that Toto Wolff wasn’t bluffing when he said Mercedes would stop developing its F1 car.