Honda is hopeful that Max Verstappen’s engine will have survived the Red Bull driver’s 51G impact with the barriers on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix.
While Red Bull fears that Verstappen’s RB16B chassis may have been damaged beyond repair, Honda has sent the car’s unit back to Japan for a thorough evaluation.
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If the engine is discarded, Verstappen would be forced to take on in Hungary his third and final power unit of the 2022 season, a prospect that would almost certainly entail the use of a fourth engine at some point and an unavoidable grid penalty that could prove costly for the current championship leader.
But Honda F1 tech boss Toyoharu Tanabe says an initial assessment of the state of Verstappen’s engine at Silverstone offered hope that the power unit can be salvaged.
“When I first saw the images of the car being lifted, I thought there was a lot of damage,” said Tanabe.
“But in reality it seems that the damage is less than what we first saw. However, the actual damage cannot be known from its appearance when it is installed in the car.
“So we would like to send it back to HRD in Sakura and check it before making a decision.”
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An engine replacement worry isn’t the only matter of concern in the Red Bull camp as writing off an RB16B chassis is a massively expensive liability for the Milton Keynes-based outfit which is constrained financially – like all F1 teams – be this year’s $145m budget cap.
Any amount earmarked for a new chassis and additional componentry will inevitably come out of Red Bull’s 2022 budget, which could imply less capital available for next year’s car, the development costs of which are included in this year’s budget.
Red Bull and Max Verstappen may have lost much more than a solid bag of points at Silverstone.
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