Honda’s Formula 1 engine manager Toyoharu Tanabe is “very surprised” by the engine problems that have plagued Mercedes this season.
Ever since Formula 1 introduced V6 hybrid engines in 2014, Mercedes’ powertrain has set the benchmark.
With the best reliability and power, Mercedes factory team broke seven consecutive championship doubles, a new Formula 1 record.
This year, however, the team’s reign is in jeopardy and Lewis Hamilton can’t even rely on his Mercedes engine to give him an advantage.
This year’s championship saw Mercedes besieged by internal combustion engine problems, Valtteri Bottas already on his sixth ICE this season while Hamilton has now taken his fifth.
– Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@ MercedesAMGF1) November 12, 2021
“I am very surprised that they frequently change the ICE,” Tanabe said.
“I actually can’t believe what’s going on and why.
“But from the point of view of the PU maker, it’s a bit disappointing to get a PU penalty for the driver.
“I am sorry [for Mercedes] about that.”
Honda would know all about it.
While this season, the four Honda-powered riders – Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda – are only on their fourth ICE of the season, that was not the case when Honda powered McLaren.
The Japanese manufacturer got the biggest combined grid penalty ever, 105 places between Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso at the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix.
Two years later, Stoffel Vandoorne receives the biggest penalty, also 65 places at Spa.
This year, Tanabe hopes all Honda riders will be done with their engine penalties.
“The current plan is that we can handle the PUs the rest of the season for all the drivers,” he said.
“We had a few crashes during the season, then we lost a few PUs, but at the moment we have enough units for all the riders. “
When asked if he thinks that if there had been no damage from an accident earlier in the season, the two Red bull pilots, Verstappen and Perez, would have seen the season with three engines, he replied: “I believe so.”