French Grand Prix – Honda has confirmed that an upgraded version of their power unit will be introduced this weekend, running on three of the four Honda powered cars.
In a bid to close the gap to the leading power units from Ferrari and Mercedes, Honda has confirmed that they will be bringing a new specification engine to this weekend’s French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard.
With the circuit being quite power intensive, thanks to the two blasts down the Mistral straight, Honda has aimed to increase the horsepower available to their drivers. Both Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniil Kvyat will run the new Spec 3, while Daniil Kvyat will get the upgrade at Toro Rosso. Alex Albon will not be running the new spec, with no explanation given for why not. Both he and Kvyat are after using three internal combustion engines each this season, meaning there is no strategic gain to not using the new power unit, so a likely explanation is simply that Honda haven’t quite managed to prepare a fourth unit just yet.
“The changes to the previous specification are mainly around the ICE and the turbocharger.” said Toyoharu Tanabe from Honda. “In this instance, our engineers at the Sakura, Japan R&D facility have worked closely with other departments within Honda, specifically the Aero engine development department. Their work and ours has many common technical features. For example, our 2018 update to the MGU-H, which dramatically improved its reliability, came as a result of our collaboration with them. In producing this Spec 3 PU, we have updated the turbocharger thanks to the knowledge and technology of the Aero engine department in the area of aerodynamic design, working alongside turbocharger manufacturer IHI.”
Tanabe-san confirmed that the introduction will mean an increase in horsepower, but not quite yet to the level of Ferrari and Mercedes: “Our test bench data shows a power increase over the previous version of our PU, however we know that we have not yet matched the figures from the manufacturers currently leading the championship. But it’s a step in the right direction and we will continue our development throughout the rest of the season, calling on the resources of the whole company.”
The changes mean that Daniil Kvyat will definitely get a grid penalty, as he has already used his allocation of three power units this season. The Red Bull drivers are still on two engines apiece, but could still face penalties this weekend if they require new control electrics or energy stores as they have already hit their limit on those parts.