Honda admits the current MGU-H design on its Formula
1 engine is only strong enough to last two races, after suffering more
“unacceptable” reliability problems at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Jenson Button qualified ninth in his one-off
return to F1 in place of Fernando Alonso in Monte Carlo, but will drop
to the back of the grid after collecting a 15-place penalty because
Honda decided to change the turbo and MGU-H on his engine after Thursday
Honda is not yet sure of the exact cause of the problem, which its F1
chief Yusuke Hasegawa says relates to the “rotation of the bearing” on
The MGU-H design was modified for reliability after McLaren-Honda
suffered several failures during round three of the championship in
Bahrain in April.
Although Honda cannot be sure this latest problem is related,
Hasegawa says the behaviour of the component is similar, which shows the
design is still not robust enough to last more than two grands prix.
“Every two races we need to change – that is not acceptable,”
Hasegawa told Motorsport.com. “We think we need to have more
modifications for robustness, with the rotating parts especially.
“Currently we are controlling some temperatures or behaviour. We can
manage the reliability. This time it did OK [mileage wise], but still we
are having some issues for reliability.”
Knowing that a grid penalty in this race would spell disaster for McLaren’s
prospects of scoring points at the circuit where it stands its best
chance yet in 2017, Honda was initially reluctant to change engine
But after discussing the situation “very carefully” with McLaren, Honda decided it was “too risky” to attempt to make the original component last the distance.
“After running FP2 we normally check every rotation part – engine,
MGU-H – and we saw the MGU-H rotating a little bit odd for a normal
situation,” Hasegawa explained.
“It’s not completely strange, but the mechanics felt some friction.
When we have a complete MGU-H failure, the MGU-H turbine is completely
stuck. Seized. This time there is not such a problem, but the mechanics
could feel some resistance.
“We discussed things with the Japanese side and we decide to change
on Friday morning. That is a 100,000rpm part, and if we feel something
strange, it never lasts. It had some chance, but it’s not worth it.”