Honda set for 'very complicated' engine upgrade dilemma


Honda's introduction of its next engine spec will equate to grid penalties for Red Bull, posing a dilemma for the Japanese manufacturer in terms of the timing of the new unit's debut.

Honda's latest engine update - the second overall in 2019 - was implemented in France and has therefore completed five races.

If logic prevails, the manufacturer's Spec 4 engine should be introduced after the summer break, at either Spa or Monza where grid penalties carry less weight.

But Honda F1 tech boss Toyoharu Tanabe insists a final decision is still in the works.

"We are discussing all the time with the teams and we will decide when we apply a new engine or updated spec," Tanabe-san told

"At the moment no decision has been made yet. It depends on the situation and timing and the result of the discussions with the teams. It’s very complicated."

Indeed, F1's upcoming schedule offers several timing options, none of which are ideal.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB15.

Bolting a new engine on to the back of Max Verstappen's RB15 at Spa or Monza would lead to the Dutchman racing at Suzuka - Honda's all-important home race - with a unit bearing considerable mileage.

And a Spec-4 engine swap and mandatory grid drop at Singapore - a track for which the RB15 shall be well-suited - would totally compromise Red Bull's chances of victory.

Ultimately, the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi, scheduled between Singapore and Japan, might prove to be Honda's best engine upgrade and grid penalty compromise as it would allow the manufacturer to complete the current season without any further changes.

"We have two types of plan, long-term and short-term," added Tanabe-san.

"After the race we review the situation, the condition of the PU, maybe two or three races is the short-term. And the long-term means until the end of the season.

"It is very complicated."

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