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F1 | Why Honda were the only engine supplier to bring updates to the Austrian GP

Honda have been the only engine supplier allowed to work during the spring, postponing their mandatory shut-down to the summer. Their were consequently able to bring updates to their power unit straight to the Austrian GP. Nikolas Tombazis explained why.

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F1 | Why Honda were the only engine supplier to bring updates to the Austrian GP
Fuente imagen: Motorlat Images

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the FIA to work hard on finding solutions and compromises to make the 2020 F1 championship as fair as possible. One of those decisions involved engine supplier Honda, that were allowed to develop their power unit while the others were shut down due to the lockdown.
Nikolas Tombazis, the head of the FIA’s single seater matters, answered a few questions to clarify the situation.

The main logic behind it was the willingness to combine to ideals: first, the FIA didn’t want a single team to be punished nor take advantage on the rivals depending on the Country they are located. Second, a second stop to the development was rightly seen as something to avoid.
“The shutdown for Honda was a bit different to the shutdown for the rest of the manufacturers,” stated Tombazis. “Not in terms of duration, but in terms of when it happened. The reason for that was that all teams and all power unit manufacturers accepted that during this extraordinary condition with the lockdown, no team or manufacturer would get added lockdown compared to others just because they happened to be in a particular country which was worse hit by COVID and therefore happened to be at a disadvantage.”

For instance, Italy has been the first manifacturers’ home Country to be violently hit by the pandemic. The subsequent Government’s decision of putting the State under lockdown prevented companies such as Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Alpha Tauri, Dallara and Pirelli to continue their commitments.
The UK and France followed soon after, while Japan kept their factories open: “That was mainly relevant for example when Italy went in to early lockdown and the UK were behind -explained Tombasiz- We said all the lockdowns had to be equal: there cannot be a team or a manufacturer that has an advantage or disadvantage from them.”


At the same time, the infection slope of Japan suggested the asian Country could be hit maily during summer-time.
But forcing all the teams to shut down whenever another company suffered from mandatory lockdown seemed unreasonable.
Thus italian workers were allowed to go back to the factories before anyone else, with a mandatory shut down period being instituted for everyone. Honda, with rising concerns about a stiffening of the cases’ graphic, back in April were allowed to keep on working, with their pause set for this summer.
“Depending on how COVID evolved in Japan -added the FIA man- we had to give some flexibility for Honda to have the shutdown a bit later. If they had a legal requirement to go into lockdown in July in Japan, [it would have been hard] then go back to the European teams and say, by the way we need to lock you down another month because Japan is locking down. That's why Honda were able to do some work while the Europeans were in lockdown and they are making up for this now. It's not perfect because you can't produce a regulation which is perfectly equitable when people are in different circumstances. But that's the best we could do with it.”

To be fair towards the FIA, Honda’s updates brought to Austria were safely within the rules, having improved only on reliability, without an addition of extra horsepower.

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