Formula 1 engine manufacturers are permitted to bring one upgrade to each competent of their power unit per season. Given the complex nature of the technology involved in the Energy Store which holds electrical energy harvested by the MGU-H and MGU-K of the hybrid power units, Honda have thus far elected not to upgrade the component.
It has been revealed that an upgrade to the Energy Store was originally planned for 2022, but given the shock announcement late last season that the Japanese manufacturer would exit the sport at the end of 2021, the upgrade has been brought forward. The new upgrade was initially introduced at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps where Verstappen made use of it to snatch pole position and eventually a half points victory.
🗣 "We knew going into Monza that it wasn't our best track and it was a shame to lose the podium, but there are plenty of positives to take. We're going to a different kind of track now and I really hope we can start strong from Friday." @schecoperez ahead of the #RussianGP pic.twitter.com/OtWwuWgvin— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) September 22, 2021
“This new ES has been developed in a project that has taken several years, with an aim to combine improvements in energy efficiency with significant reductions in weight,” Honda F1’s head of power unit development Yasuaki Asaki said.
“In what will be the company’s final season in the sport, Honda F1 has managed to introduce the new ES — fitted with a lighter, low-resistance, highly efficient and ultra-high power battery cell — just in time for the start of the second half of the season.
“In order to achieve the ultimate goal of defeating Mercedes and winning the championship before leaving F1 at the end of the 2021 season, we recognized the need to enhance performance. As such, the development plan for the new ES was brought forward substantially from the original goal of 2022 to introduction during the 2021 season.”
One new homologation per component is allowed per season, so we started the 2021 season with our 2020 ES to give ourselves time to develop this latest version 👉 https://t.co/KiXd7xInLJ #PoweredByHonda pic.twitter.com/khE59iyRVP— Honda Racing F1 (@HondaRacingF1) September 22, 2021
The introduction will see a welcome boost to performance for both Red Bull in their championship battle, and sister team AlphaTauri as they fight to solidify their place in the upper midfield. Both Sergio Perez and Pierre Gasly have received the upgrade following its initial introduction on Verstappen’s car.
Honda worked between it’s Milton Keynes team as well as the road car battery development team to fast track development in order to have the upgrade ready prior to their departure from the sport. This in turn will allow Red Bull to continue to make use of it from next season when they will take over the Honda intellectual property.