Honda has revealed it introduced an upgraded Energy Store (ES) after the summer break that helped Max Verstappen win two of the past three races.
Power unit manufacturers are allowed to update each component once per season, and Honda had not done so with its ES due to the complex nature of the technology. A major upgrade was originally scheduled for 2022, but with the Japanese manufacturer leaving Formula 1 at the end of this season, it opted to fast-track the development and managed to get it ready for use by Verstappen at Spa-Francorchamps, where he took pole and was credited with a half-points victory.
“This new ES has been developed in a project that has taken several years, with an aim to combine improvements in energy efficiency with significant reductions in weight,” Honda F1’s head of power unit development Yasuaki Asaki said.
“In what will be the company’s final season in the sport, Honda F1 has managed to introduce the new ES — fitted with a lighter, low-resistance, highly efficient and ultra-high power battery cell — just in time for the start of the second half of the season.
“In order to achieve the ultimate goal of defeating Mercedes and winning the championship before leaving F1 at the end of the 2021 season, we recognized the need to enhance performance. As such, the development plan for the new ES was brought forward substantially from the original goal of 2022 to introduction during the 2021 season.”
Honda says the work was undertaken by its team in Milton Keynes in collaboration with its R&D arm and the road car battery development team. By getting the upgrade ready for use this season, Red Bull and AlphaTauri both get the opportunity to use it during 2021 while Red Bull will take over the technology next year.
Sergio Perez and Pierre Gasly are understood to have also received the upgrade following a change of components that required pit lane starts at Zandvoort — where Verstappen also won — and Monza respectively.