Mercedes is scattering engine parts this season. The customer teams have all had to use their fourth engine, while only three are allowed. Mercedes itself is already working on engine number five (Lewis Hamilton) and engine number six (Valtteri Bottas).
At Red Bull, both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez are working on engine number four. They also had to change too many times, but that was mainly due to the crashes of the Dutchman (Silverstone) and the Mexican (Hungary). Incidentally, both crashes involved a Mercedes driver.
Ahead of the Grand Prix weekend in Brazil, with a total of four races to go, Mercedes decided to once again replace Hamilton’s combustion engine. It gave him a five-place grid penalty, but at the same time it allowed him to actually fly around the Interlagos circuit during the sprint race and the ensuing Grand Prix.
After it was decided in Qatar to use the older engine again, Hamilton can again use the latest, fresh power source for the last two Grands Prix of the year. Why does Red Bull not opt for the same tactic?
Although you then have to take a five-place penalty – something Max Verstappen himself does not agree with – Hamilton has proven that it should not be a problem to quickly make up for those lost places.
Honda engine not suitable
The explanation is actually very simple. While the Mercedes engine can provide significantly more power at the beginning of its life, this is not the case with Red Bull-Honda.
The Mercedes engine, like the power unit with which Hamilton drove in Brazil, already loses some power after its first race. As a result, the Briton flew to Interlagos, but will not do so during the race weekend in Saudi Arabia as in Brazil.
A new Honda power source will not make a difference for Verstappen, explains Helmut Marko at sky. Whether it’s race one or race seven with the same engine, the performance will be about the same. Of course, the fresher engine is somewhat better, but differences such as can be seen at Mercedes between an old and new engine, there are no Red Bulls.
Verstappen must hope for a miracle from Red Bull and Honda
Although Max Verstappen is heading for the last two races as leader in the Formula 1 championship, the Dutchman will have to hope for a small miracle from Red Bull and Honda.