Honda left ‘surprised’ by Mercedes, Ferrari failures

Date published: September 4 2019

Robert Kubica didn't suspect an engine failure was incoming during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Honda Formula 1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe has expressed his surprise to see Mercedes and Ferrari powered cars suffer reliability issues at Spa.

SportPesa Racing Point’s Sergio Perez was forced to revert to a previous spec Mercedes engine after a practice session came to a smoky end whilst Robert Kubica could only manage a few corners before his Mercedes power unit went pop in qualifying.

Antonio Giovinazzi’s Ferrari-powered Alfa Romeo also packed in during qualifying, leaving the Honda boss a little puzzled given how reliability is usually a strong point for Mercedes and, to a lesser extent, Ferrari.

“I’m surprised, for two reasons,” Tanabe told Motorsport.com.

“One, their reliability showed in the past, and also this year. We can only use three engines per year, so they must run more than 5,000km.

“They have a lot of experience of how to guarantee the mileage and the reliability using dyno endurance tests.

“The new spec, of course, passed that durability test in the factory, then the engine came [to the track] and had trouble. That is one question and also [why I am] surprised.

“The other is quality control: they supply two or three teams for a long time, they know how to control the quality, how to check it before they ship [to races].”

Tanabe was also reminded of the issues Honda had with their Spec 3 engines last year and how they have tried to learn from those lessons.

“When we introduced the Spec 3 trackside last year, we had some calibration issues,” he added.

“We learned from that and tried to make a high-quality calibration for trackside.

“Your own team is important, so you can try something with the customer teams, how the new spec behaves at the track, and then optimise the calibration and later you introduce the engine to your team.

“Ferrari has a mature calibration or they know how to use the engine at the track efficiently, so immediately it performs well. That’s one of the ideas of using the customer teams.

“But at the same time, maybe you think ‘we are perfect, we can apply the engines [on all teams at the same time].”

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