When will Honda deliver the next version engine?August 29, 2019
The progress of Red Bull Racing and Honda allowed Max Verstappen to win two of the four races before the summer break – and if not for the bold Mercedes strategy in Hungary, there could be three wins. British expert Mark Hughes discusses the strategy of Honda in the second part of the season.
Having received updated aerodynamics and permission from Honda motorists to use aggressive powertrain modes, Red Bull Racing became a serious rival to Mercedes. In the past four races, on average they were inferior to Mercedes only two-tenths in a circle, despite a completely different philosophy of developing the car. In this case, both teams rely on large downforce, and not on low drag, like Ferrari, where such downforce cannot be achieved.
As the gap with Mercedes narrowed, Red Bull realized that they were able to fight for the pole and stopped sacrificing qualifications when tuning cars. This was evident in Hungary, where Mercedes cars in the race were obviously faster, but almost lost the race because they missed the pole.
In qualifications at Mercedes, they could not bring the tires to the optimum temperature range for the first two turns of the fast lap, which allowed Verstappen to win the pole. When cars are so close in speed, qualification results become even more important.
Unlike the start of the season, Mercedes no longer has a sufficient speed advantage to tune the car to the race with the confidence that the pole will still remain with them. Now Red Bull and Honda are ready to use the aggressive settings of the car and the power plant to pressure Mercedes without the risk of losing anything. It is interesting to see if they can maintain this pace in the second part of the season – and what will be the progress of Mercedes.
An aggressive approach to the development and use of power plants has obvious consequences – they will have to lose ground at the start and the team needs to choose the optimal moment when the consequences of such a replacement will be minimal.
Honda has prepared a new, fourth specification of the 2019 powerplant and they believe that it will allow them to equal the power of Mercedes, although it will be slightly inferior to Ferrari. The question is when to put it on cars. Since there are nine more races ahead, installing it in the Spa will almost certainly lead to a fine – so many races it will not stand.
The race in Singapore (the third of the nine remaining) in Red Bull has special hopes – there they hope for a good result and will not want to get a fine. With the race in Japan (the fifth of nine), Honda has particular expectations, so the installation of a new power plant in Suzuka is also unlikely. It can be assumed that if the new motors are not delivered to the Spa, then they will debut in Sochi.
Mercedes will also soon deliver a modified power plant, but so far they have no threat of fines – both engines now have the second of the three engines allowed.
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