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F1 2022

Dieter's Diary: Honda name to return to F1

In the first part of his Canadian Grand Prix diary, RacingNews365.com Editorial Director Dieter Rencken wades through the fallout from the FIA's controversial Technical Directive 39, and reveals why the Honda name may soon be returning to F1.

Verstappen Canada
Column
To news overview © Red Bull Contentpool

Thursday

Fly Montreal from Brussels, hoping my Air Canada flight is punctual. It isn't – no surprise: in 10 return trips I've not known the airline to adhere to its timetables - so land in Montreal two-and-a-half hours late. This has knock-on effects: After sorting formalities and getting my rental car I'm hit by ferocious storms which result in traffic logjams, so I pull aside to sort fallout from Technical Directive 39 from the car.

The wonders of modern tech, but this means I run four hours later than had the flight been punctual, so I skip going to the circuit and head for my B&B. I hit bed early in line with my doctrine of splitting the time zone difference to reduce the effects of jetlag.

Interestingly, the immediate reaction to the TD that came from a team technical boss is telling: He texted that TD39 is a knee-jerk reaction by the governing body to melodrama in Baku, which forced the FIA into action on 'safety grounds' when it's actually a set-up issue. "It's more an intent than a technical directive," he wrote.

"Where the last paragraph says the car may not comply with the regulations from this race is [strange]. If someone does [comply] they will be protested…"

Friday

Up at 4am and catch up on paperwork before heading for the circuit. It feels like a three-year time warp: We last raced on the Ile Notre-Dame in 2019 and it seems nothing has changed. Still, it's good to back in Montreal as the race is one of my favourites.

Press conference time and no surprise that driver reactions to TD39 depend on where their cars are on the 'bouncing' scale: Those with no issues criticise the directive; those with bouncing cars are fully in favour and the heavier the bounce, the greater the agreement.

The FIA took action on 'safety grounds', but given the cars are relatively benign with higher ride heights, it seems an indictment on team bosses that they forced the FIA by running. It is no surprise, then, that by late afternoon the FIA backpedalled – as revealed here – stating that insufficient data will have been collected by the end of Saturday FP3 – the cut-off point to check cars for extreme oscillation.

Thus, they will not penalise teams in Montreal, so Silverstone at the earliest – one of the smoothest tracks on the calendar. As with the jewellery saga, I wonder whether the governing body will keep delaying the matter until it's off the radar?

I pick up that Red Bull and Honda are close to announcing an alternate engine deal – which started as a full works supply arrangement for both Red Bull teams, then mutated into an in-house project with Red Bull acquiring the intellectual rights and producing engines in Milton Keynes after Honda formally withdrew from F1 last year. When that proved tight, Honda agreed to supply 'white label' engines from Japan.

However, the issue is IP: by holding Honda's IP, Red Bull – even if the rights are unused – may not be viewed as a new engine supplier under F1's 2026 regulations, which provide development concessions to a newcomer, which Red Bull Powertrains, currently being set up in Milton Keynes, aims to be. The story goes that Red Bull will relinquish the IP rights, with Honda returning as low-key supplier with on-car branding.

It's always seemed strange that Red Bull would hold IP rights it no longer intends using, while Honda remains almost invisible despite supplying the reigning world champion with power units. Honda’s approach to F1 over the years has been one of F1's bigger mysteries. The question, though, is will the relinquishing of the IP rights be enough for Red Bull to be viewed as a newcomer in the eyes of the opposition?

Talking engines, the VW Group's proposed F1 programme via Porsche and Audi has gone rather quiet after a run of bullish comments. While F1 folk remain confident at least one of the brands will enter in 2026, no deals have been confirmed. This is concerning: VW's EU group sales dropped 22 per-cent in May versus 13 per cent for the rest of the motor industry. It's easier for boards to say 'No' than 'Yes' when it comes to F1.

After FP2 heavy rain strikes again, albeit not as ferociously as Thursday's storms. Forecasts had been for dry skies, indicating how unpredictable Montreal's weather patterns are. Saturday is said to be wet and Sunday dry, so let's see…

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: How worried should Ferrari be by their mechanical woes?

RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth are joined by Julien Simon-Chautemps as they question how concerned Ferrari should be after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

F1 2022 Canadian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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