Honda has made a number of changes to both the components and the packaging of its power unit for this season, bringing forward development that had been delayed until 2022.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to power unit manufacturers being unable to update their engines during the season last year, with any development only allowed to be introduced over the winter. Honda will quit Formula 1 at the end of the year but that hasn’t stopped the Japanese manufacturer from introducing a major update ahead of its final season, and Honda’s F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe has outlined the work that has been done for both Red Bull and AlphaTauri, which launched its 2021 car today (pictured above).
“Of course this is Honda’s last year in Formula 1 and in order to finish on a high note, everyone in Sakura and Milton Keynes is very determined and we feel we have prepared well for the coming season in conjunction with Scuderia AlphaTauri over the winter so far,” Tanabe said. “We won’t know for sure how good a job we have done until we hit the track, but so far preparation has gone smoothly.
“It is difficult be specific about which parts have seen the most work, but in order to improve power and reliability, we have made modifications to the ICE, turbine and ERS. This is our third year with Scuderia AlphaTauri and in order to improve as a whole, we have also improved the installation and packaging of the entire PU.”
Given the fact new technical regulations in F1 were also delayed by a year until 2022, Honda had originally planned to push its update back to be introduced at the same time, but Tanabe says it reversed that decision once it was confirmed the power unit supplier would be pulling out.
“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we were going to introduce a new PU for this year; however, given all the difficulties and restrictions because of the long F1 shutdown, combined with the European lockdown and delay in parts supply, we had decided to postpone it to 2022.
“However, taking into account the decision announced in October 2020, that Honda would leave the sport at the end of 2021, we reassessed the situation and changed our plan again to reintroduce it in 2021. It was very tight timing to make this change, but we managed to bring forward the development and preparation program. At Honda, we felt that we really wanted to use all our technical know-how before leaving the sport.”