Honda will introduce its next specification of power unit at next weekend’s French Grand Prix as part of its aggressive development schedule.
F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe revealed in Canada that Honda has been in discussion with both Red Bull and Toro Rosso about when to introduce its next power unit, having first upgraded at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix – earlier than any of its rivals.
“Our development is ongoing and we are considering when we’ll introduce the next step up,” Tanabe said. “But we are observing the current situation on the PU, mileage and then damage, and we are discussing with the teams when is the best timing to introduce new, updated PU to the trackside.
“It’s not only a Honda matter; we are closely working with the teams, for both Toro Rosso and Red Bull. At the moment I cannot tell exactly when, but we are looking for a new, updated PU.”
With Red Bull’s home race coming up in Austria – one week after next weekend’s French Grand Prix – and the team keen for Honda to deliver performance as quickly as possible, RACER understands the next specification will be introduced at Paul Ricard.
For the Red Bull drivers there will be no penalty for a new internal combustion engine as they have each used two of their three permitted for the year, but the Toro Rosso pair will both receive their fourth – and with it a grid penalty – should they take the new specification.
The timing means the Honda will have been upgraded every four races so far, and Tanabe says there is still a deficit to the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes in terms of power unit performance, even if he is happy with the progress made this season.
“I frequently told you that we are still in the position of catching up the top PU manufacturers, in terms of power and also the reliability,” he said. “We are still developing for both. It means we know our position is a little bit down from these top competitors. But in terms of the performance since the first race of this year, our forecasts showed good performance on the track.”