Honda-powered cars closing in on penalties

Michelle Foster
Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda

Two races into the 2021 championship and the Honda-powered cars may be showing improved pace, but they are down on reliability.

So much so that Sergio Perez and both AlphaTauri drivers are closing in on penalties.

Last time out in Bahrain, Sergio Perez and Pierre Gasly’s cars both required a new Energy Store and Control Electronics.

Gasly had his engine components replaced after Friday’s session while Perez had the same problem a day later.

Three weeks later and Tsunoda’s name was added to the list with the Japanese rookie’s AT02 requiring a second MGU-K and Energy Store.

“In FP1, we spotted something on the electrical data from Tsunoda’s car, so we checked the PU and chassis and opted to change some component,” Honda’s F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe said.

“Nevertheless, we still gathered a respectable amount of data which we can now analyse as we work on optimising our PU for qualifying and Sunday’s race.”

With each driver handed only two free Energy Stores that means all three drivers are on the cusp of grid penalties.

Perez and Gasly are also there with Control Electronics, with again only two permitted before the drivers begin to earn grid penalties.

The 2021 allowances:

Internal combustion engine – 3
Turbocharger – 3
MGU-H – 3
MGU-K – 3
Energy Store – 2
Control Electronics – 2

Sergio Perez

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Tsunoda was seventh fastest in FP2 for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix with his team-mate Gasly up in third place.

The Red Bulls of Perez and Max Verstappen were sixth and 14th with Verstappen having completed just five laps due to a driveshaft failure.

“I like Italy, the food is good, I enjoy being here – just the driving part so far hasn’t been the luckiest,” said Verstappen.

“I had a driveshaft issue, so I had to stop the car.

“It’s of course difficult to say now in the second session how we would have been, but nothing shocking.

“So we’ll just have to look into what we can do better tomorrow in terms of balance. But yeah, of course, first we have to make sure that nothing breaks.”

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