Max Verstappen’s championship challenge against Lewis Hamilton appears set to be hindered by a grid penalty at some point later this season after Honda said the engine damaged in the crash with the Mercedes driver at last month’s British GP could not be raced again.
The Japanese manufacturer also revealed that Sergio Perez had also lost a power unit, damaged beyond repair when Valtteri Bottas careered into him in the other Mercedes in the chaotic start of the Hungarian GP.
With all teams limited to a maximum of three power units for the season and with as many as 12 races still to go, it appears inevitable Red Bull will have to unlock a fourth unit for both drivers which would carry a minimum grid penalty of 10 places.
“We have lost 1 PU each and we have around 23 races in this season, so we have to think our PU strategy accordingly,” said Honda’s technical director Toyoharu Tanabe to Japanese media at Spa on Thursday.
Although there are some suggestions that Honda might attempt to see if they can run the units in any way in a Friday practice session, grid drops still appear unavoidable at this stage with so many events still to come.
Sky F1’s Martin Brundle said: “Let’s wait and see how it plays out, but there’s no doubt about it, it will cost Red Bull in terms of grid position penalty, or maybe they’ll have to run lower power through the other phases of the season.
“It’s something they don’t need and they feel it’s through no fault of their own. But there are no third-party liability obligations between competitors. You cannot blame other people for the issues you have, unfortunately.
“They’ll just have to suck it up and make the best of it.”
Hamilton and Bottas were found at fault by stewards for causing the accidents in the respective incidents.
Verstappen moved onto his third engine ahead of the race in Hungary, while Perez’s third unit was unlocked on Friday morning as the F1 season resumed at Spa-Francorchamps. Both Mercedes drivers are also now on their third engines too, although still have use of previous units raced already in 2021.
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