BUDAPEST, Hungary — Red Bull has fitted a new power unit to Max Verstappen’s car after engine supplier Honda detected a potential issue it believes is linked to Verstappen’s high-speed crash at the British Grand Prix.
The new power unit, which is the same specification as the old one, will be Verstappen’s third Honda engine of the year. The rules allow each driver to use three engines over the course of the year before incurring grid penalties for installing further components.
As a result, Verstappen will still start from third place on the grid at Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix, but the unscheduled power unit change means he will likely incur a penalty later in the season if the damaged engine cannot be used again.
“During post-qualifying checks we noticed something on Max’s PU which might have developed over the course of the weekend, likely to be an after-effect of the Silverstone crash,” a Honda statement said. “We have therefore changed it for a new PU of the same specification. According to the regulations, Max is allowed to start from his third position on the grid with no penalty incurred.”
Verstappen’s car was wrecked at Silverstone two weeks ago after he tangled with title rival Lewis Hamilton and crashed out of the British Grand Prix. Remarkably, Honda’s initial checks suggested the engine was still operating as normal and he used the same power unit in qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
However, a physical inspection of the power unit on Saturday evening led to concerns about a structural part of the engine and Honda opted to replace it so it could carry out further checks on the damaged engine at its factory in Japan.
After the accident at Silverstone, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner estimated the cost of the damage would come in at $1.8 million in total, while Verstappen saw his championship lead slashed from 33 points to eight.