Honda has made changes for the Styrian Grand Prix following analysis of the reliability issues suffered by both Red Bull cars last weekend in Austria.
Max Verstappen retired early (pictured above) after slowing when running second, and was complaining he couldn’t change a setting back inside the car. Then Alex Albon stopped in the closing stages following contact with Lewis Hamilton. Two different issues have been diagnosed but neither caused any power unit damage.
“The problems on the two Aston Martin Red Bull Racing cars in the last race were both electrical, but caused by different issues,” Honda F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe said. “We have been analyzing both these matters together with the teams and we have put countermeasures in place for this weekend. As our power units do not have any damage caused by those issues, Max and Alex will use their same PU’s this weekend.
“This weekend, we must aim to finish the race with all four cars and achieve a good result with them.”
Honda also has a performance deficit to Mercedes to address, with F1 managing director Masashi Yamamoto admitting he was surprised by the gap that opened up in qualifying at the first race.
“In practice we were seeing what we expected from the dyno, especially on the long runs as well,” Yamamoto said. “So everything was as we had planned but we were surprised by the progress Mercedes has made, especially in qualifying.
“We were behind Mercedes in qualifying; however, from the performance in the race we think we can be competitive against them, at least on Sundays. That was positive, but we need to make sure we don’t have the various troubles again.
“Alex was very impressive, as was the way the team changed strategy and pit him for soft tires near the end. Alex responded immediately and performed very well with the different tires. He was almost in front of Lewis before he was hit by him, so it’s very frustrating that we missed a good result from the race.”
Frustrations aside, technical director Tanabe complemented F1 on its collective effort to get back to racing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Although we had a tough race, it was great for Formula 1 that racing returned last weekend and that all the safety procedures put in place resulted in everything running smoothly and safely,” he said. “This weekend, we race at the same track — the first time this has happened in the championship’s history. It means that our data is up to date and relevant, although one factor that could affect our work is the forecast for rain and even thunderstorms over the coming weekend.”