Honda reveal secret upgrade introduced at Spa

Finley Crebolder
Max Verstappen follows the Safety Car. Belgium August 2021

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen follows the Safety Car at the Belgian Grand Prix. Belgium August 2021

Honda have revealed that they brought an engine upgrade they have been working on for a number of years to the Belgian Grand Prix.

The Japanese manufacturer will leave the sport at the end of the season, and have the chance to bow out in style with Red Bull locked in a tight title fight with Mercedes.

Max Verstappen leads the Drivers’ Championship by five points ahead of Lewis Hamilton, with Mercedes 18 up on Red Bull in the Constructors’ standings.

As they’re leaving, they pushed the introduction of a number of upgrades initially planned for the 2022 campaign forward by a year to boost the team’s chances of prevailing.

The latest of those upgrades, as it turns out, was brought in at the Belgian Grand Prix in the form of a new energy store that has been worked on for years.

“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,” said the head of power unit development, Yasuaki Asaki.

“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 recognised 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.”

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Looking back, the upgrade seems to have been effective so far, with Verstappen being the fastest man on track at both Spa and Zandvoort, taking pole position and victory at both, even if the former only proved to be a two-lap race.

Honda had to work extremely hard to get it ready so far ahead of schedule, but were happy to do so as the technology will benefit the company outside of F1 too.

“Even after Honda leaves F1, this new battery technology will contribute hugely to Honda’s future technology,” Asaki added.

“To create a carbon-neutral society, lead the advancement of mobility and enable people everywhere in the world to improve their daily lives.”

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