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Formula 1

Red Bull had to change engine for Honda examination

by Matt Beer
2 min read

Red Bull had to change Alex Albon’s engine on Thursday when Honda discovered a potential problem, but the team still completed more than 100 laps as Formula 1 testing continued.

Albon lost time in the morning when Red Bull said he needed to adjust his seat fit to give him more space around his shoulders.

However, he had an even bigger spell in the garage after the lunchbreak, which was due to a new Honda engine being fitted to his car.

The change was precautionary and prompted by a problem detected not at trackside, but while Honda was completing dyno running in Japan.

A change of engine was considered the best option to complete the rest of Thursday’s running.

Honda will refit the original engine for the final day of the first test on Friday, when Verstappen and Albon are both scheduled to drive.

“Just before the lunch break, our engineers working in Sakura spotted something on the dyno and suggested that, as a precaution, we remove the power unit from Alex’s car to carry out a physical examination,” said Honda’s F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe.

“We therefore replaced it for the afternoon.

“A thorough check revealed no issues and that first power unit will be back in the car tomorrow.

“We lost some track time, but not much and Alex still managed to complete 134 laps today.”

The setback occurred after a very encouraging first day of running in which Max Verstappen said the new RB16 was fast “everywhere”.

Verstappen completed 169 laps on Wednesday, Honda’s highest day-one total and one lap fewer than its busiest-ever testing day.

Honda’s reliability has been much-improved over the past two seasons, with outright performance its chief remaining weakness by the end of 2019.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said that in performance terms, Honda’s on-track data was matching its winter development projections.

“The correlation between what we’re seeing on track and dynos is looking spot on,” he said when asked by The Race.

“So that side’s also encouraging.

“It’s always easy to get drawn into the timing sheets particularly in the early testing.

“It’ll move around a lot I’m sure by the time we get to Melbourne.”

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