New power unit broken after 14 Canadian laps?

Friday in Canada was not particularly productive for Formula 1 due to the repeated rain showers. But in the second practice session, 19 drivers managed to cover a decent number of kilometres on a half-dry track for a good 30 minutes and then light rain. Not so for Max Verstappen. For him, the day took a very unpleasant turn.

On his fourth lap in the second practice session in Canada, only the 14th of his day, Verstappen reported the smell of smoke coming from the cockpit and had to park the RB20 in the garage straight away. In a window of a good 30 minutes when the track was passable on slicks. But the engine is a much bigger concern than the lost time.

Red Bull breaks down after engine change in Canada

Immediately after the Red Bull had been pushed back into the garage, yellow barrier tape was rolled out. A sure sign of what the team would later confirm: a defect in the hybrid system, or more precisely in the energy recovery system. A major defect, that much became clear during the training. The car was eventually jacked up and worked on by a large number of mechanics.

Verstappen’s day was over prematurely. The exact problem or its cause is still unknown. What is certain, however, is that Red Bull actually installed new power units for the Canadian GP as planned. Both Verstappen and Sergio Perez received new combustion engines, turbos, as well as new MGU-Ks and MGU-Hs. In all cases it was number three of the four permitted.

“It’s more important now that we find out what happened and what the consequences are for this weekend and for the rest of the year,” said Verstappen after training. If a hybrid component of the brand new power unit is indeed irreparably damaged after just 14 laps, then the probability of a penalty in the second half of the season would be high.

Verstappen lacks experience on rainy Friday in Montreal

As far as the Canadian GP is concerned, Verstappen’s immediate concerns are not related to a penalty. Even if a part is broken, he has options here that are free of penalty. He would not exceed the limit with new parts. And installing one of the two power units already in use is also conceivable. It is early in the season and these two are not yet at the end of their life cycle. An old power unit will cost a little performance on the power course in Montreal compared to fresh parts, but it is not the end of the world.

The immediate problem is more the lack of driving time. “Not ideal, of course I would have liked to have driven more,” said Verstappen. “The others had a few more laps in the dry, then in the wet.” Most of the other drivers drove over 20 laps, spread over dry and wet conditions.

Although the results were not conclusive, more rain is expected for the rest of the weekend. Together with the new asphalt, today’s experience is therefore valuable. Teammate Sergio Perez was also unhappy and was annoyed about the timing on the slicks: “We just weren’t out at the right time.”

Red Bull therefore does not have much information on the slick. Perez claims to have already identified a few possible changes to the setup: “We have a good idea of ​​what we need to change, but it is difficult to draw conclusions from a day so influenced by the weather.” In FP2, Perez finished tenth. So Red Bull still has a lot of work to do on Saturday. And little time. The team also has an update, more on that here:

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