RACE DEBRIEF

    Honda have made good gains with their Formula 1 power unit of late and as part of their plan to close the gap to the class leaders even further, they are bringing their second in-season upgrade to this weekend’s French Grand Prix.

    It comes just four races after their last upgrade, but whereas spec 2 was introduced primarily for reliability with a resulting small power boost, spec 3 is focused on performance, with the data from Honda's dynos at Sakura suggesting they have found a power increase over the last upgrade.

    Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly plus Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat will receive the upgraded internal combustion engine (ICE) and turbocharger. It means Kvyat will get a grid penalty for exceeding his ICE allocation.

    Toro Rosso have opted not to give Kvyat’s team mate Alexander Albon the new spec to avoid both drivers receiving grid penalties at the same race. The Italian team will make a decision after the French Grand Prix weekend as to when Albon will receive spec 3.

    Our test bench data shows a power increase over the previous version of our PU

    Honda F1 Technical Director Toyoharu Tanabe

    Honda also revealed their latest development is the result of a collaboration with the Japanese manufacturer’s Aero engine department – otherwise known as Honda Jet – as well as working alongside turbocharger manufacturer IHI.

    “The changes to the previous specification are mainly around the ICE and the turbocharger,” said Honda F1 Technical Director Toyoharu Tanabe. “In this instance, our engineers at the Sakura, Japan R&D facility have worked closely with other departments within Honda, specifically the Aero engine development department.

    “In producing this Spec 3 PU, we have updated the turbocharger thanks to the knowledge and technology of the Aero engine department in the area of aerodynamic design.

    “Our test bench data shows a power increase over the previous version of our PU, however we know that we have not yet matched the figures from the manufacturers currently leading the championship.

    “But it’s a step in the right direction and we will continue our development throughout the rest of the season, calling on the resources of the whole company.”

    2019 Chinese GP

    Lawrence Barretto [Senior writer, F1.com] says…

    This is a bold move from Honda to bring in their third new specification so early in the season, with most power unit manufacturers waiting until Belgium or Italy, after the summer break.

    However, this is part of the Japanese manufacturer’s plan to close the gap on the class leaders – Ferrari and Mercedes – and it builds on the momentum they have be gathering.

    Their last two upgrades have worked as expected, meaning there is good correlation between the factory and the track. It also suggests they are following the right development direction.

    Their development approach does mean Red Bull and Toro Rosso will take penalties for engine component changes this year, but they are both supportive of the plan because of the potential long-term performance gains.

    It’s also interesting that Honda have revealed publically that they have been collaborating with Honda Jet, their successful corporate jet technology arm. This has been happening for a while now and the release of this information suggests an air of confidence in what they are doing, when previously they have preferred to reveal very little about their processes.