The Red Bull Honda team have been on an absolute roll in the past couple of races with a few wins, courtesy Max Verstappen. However, some feel that their current pace could come at a price in later races.
1997 F1 world champion, Jacques Villeneuve is not fully convinced of the Austrian team’s resurgence. In fact, he suggested that the good form is owing to stretching Honda’s power unit to unmanageable levels.
Aside from Pierre Gasly’s misfortune, Red Bull ended the first half of 2019 as one of the best teams. They had two wins from Max Verstappen and excellent performances in Hungary and Great Britain.
What also helped their cause was a new front wing in Austria, coupled with Honda amping up the power in Spielberg. As a result Max Verstappen was able to slice through the field and eventually pass Charles LeClerc.
Interestingly, Red Bull have yet to cop engine-related penalties in 2019. Even though they have power unit parts to spare, Honda’s upgrade programme would still result in a downgraded engine for both Verstappen and Alex Albon.
Villeneuve expects Honda to introduce new upgraded parts, which would result in the two drivers pick up grid penalties. According to him, this will handicap them for the remaining nine races.
Speaking to Motorsport-Magazin.com, Villeneuve said, “The problem is that Honda will face penalties in the second half of the season.”
“They have an engine that only lasts three or four races, which is why they have the power, they are not trying to make seven races.
“Mercedes and Ferrari could do that, and then they would have 30 horsepower more.”
Unfortunately for Alex Albon, even though he has not raced for Red Bull yet, engine penalties are attached to the car, not driver. In other words, if Red Bull make an unscheduled change to his car, the Thai driver will pick up a penalty. Meanwhile, the same thing will happen for the Frenchman on his return to Toro Rosso.