Good news and bad news for Pierre Gasly: the Toro Rosso driver will race Honda’s new power unit, but the subsequent change means he’ll be starting at the back of the grid.
A technical issue with the Japanese manufacturer’s latest upgraded engine had forced Gasly to revert to the old-spec unit for Saturday’s qualifying, a state of affairs that complicated the Frenchman’s task.
A thorough overnight analysis of the new-spec unit by Honda’ engineers, in Canada and back in Japan, concluded that the most recent engine was good to go. The change however comes with a 10-place grid penalty for Gasly who expected to start Sunday’s race P16.
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“We changed the engine after FP3 because Honda recognised on the data that maybe there could be something not working in the direction they expected,” team boss Franz Tost told Motorsport.com.
“Then because of the short time to analyse it, it was safer to go back to the old spec. And then after analysing all the data with Sakura yesterday in the evening we decided to fit a new power unit.
“Also because Pierre suffered in qualifying because of the time he lost going to the weigh bridge, and we don’t want to have a penalty in France or Austria. We decided to take it here, and then hopefully it works.”
Suspicious minds in the paddock suggested the decision to race the new engine is linked to Red Bull’s comprehensive monitoring of Honda’s performance in Canada this weekend as it nears a decision on working with Honda or Renault next season.
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