Honda’s Formula 1 engine chief Toyoharu Tanabe is “very surprised” by the engine woes that have befallen Mercedes this season.
Ever since Formula 1 introduced the V6 hybrid engines back in 2014, Mercedes’ power unit has been the benchmark.
With the best reliability and power, Mercedes’ works team romped to seven successive championship doubles, a new record in Formula 1.
This year though the team’s reign is under threat and Lewis Hamilton can’t even rely on his Mercedes power unit to give him an advantage.
This year’s championship has seen Mercedes besieged by Internal Combustion Engine problems, Valtteri Bottas already onto his sixth ICE of this season while Hamilton has now taken his fifth.
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 12, 2021
“I am very surprised they are changing the ICE frequently,” Tanabe said.
“Actually, I cannot believe what’s going on and why.
“But from the PU manufacturer point of view it’s kind of disappointing to get a PU penalty for the driver.
“I’m sorry [for Mercedes] about that.”
Honda would know all about that.
While this season all four Honda-powered drivers – Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda – are only onto their fourth ICE of the season, that was not the case when Honda were powering McLaren.
The Japanese manufacturer earned the largest combined grid penalty ever, 105 places between Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso at the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix.
Two years later Stoffel Vandoorne was hit with the single biggest penalty, 65 places also at Spa.
This year Tanabe is hoping all the Honda drivers are done with their engine related penalties.
“The current plan is we can manage the PUs the rest of the season for all drivers,” he said.
“We had some accidents during the season and then lose some PUs, but at the moment, we have a sufficient number of units for all drivers.”
Asked if he thought had it not been for crash damage earlier in the season, both Red Bull drivers, Verstappen and Perez, would have seen out the season with three engines, he replied: “I believe yes.”