Following the last F1 strategy group meeting it was decided Honda – and any subsequent new engine manufacturer, should be allowed the five engines per season that Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault were afforded in their first year.
Yet as with a number of recent FIA regulations, the intention of how this would be operated was not particularly clear.
Such that Honda mischievously released a statement, which said: “We do not know the details of how we gain back the Austrian penalties, etc. We have to confirm the details going forward, now that the FIA has made its decision.”
Having already taken a fifth engine this year, McLaren-Honda had been given an enormous number of grid place penalties at the Red Bull Ring race in Austria.
Rather than this being merely an amusing riposte from the Japanese manufacturer, there were serious technicalities to be considered. One such question was that because the fifth engine Honda deployed in Austria did not utilise any of the Honda development tokens available this year – would this also be a restriction mandated for the extra ‘free from penalties’ engine now allowed.
The FIA have responded and revealed the extra engine may be deployed by Honda from the Hungarian GP onwards, and given there are no restrictions mandated, Honda can utilise development tokens when the introduce this power unit.
Honda’s plans have been to hold back engines with the development tokens until later in the year – presumably whilst reliability is improved.
It is therefore unlikely we will see a new engine from McHonda in Hungary, though the power hungry circuits of Spa and Monza may force the teams’ hands to deliver an engine upgrade after the summer break.