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Christian Horner

Horner 'concerned' after multiple Honda engine issues

Red Bull boss Christian Horner is hopeful of fixes being identified and put in place after a spate of engine-related issues for their sister team.

Tsunoda Saudi
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

While Red Bull leave Saudi Arabia with the euphoria of having won the Grand Prix with Max Verstappen - and Sergio Perez making it a double points finish courtesy of his fourth place - there are still some reasons for team boss Christian Horner to feel concerned.

Immediately prior to the race beginning, AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda pulled over to the side of the track with a "drivetrain" issue as he reported problems with his engine.

The Red Bull Powertrains-badged engine in the back of the AlphaTauri is identical to that in the Red Bulls and, worryingly, was already Tsunoda's second power unit of the season, after he suffered an issue with his first unit during Friday practice.

On top of that, Pierre Gasly endured a stoppage in FP3, and had also taken on his second power unit for the campaign following a catastrophic fire at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

"Of course, we're concerned about it," Horner told media, including RacingNews365.com, when asked about the issues with the engines.

While they are officially branded as Red Bull Powertrains, the units are actually still designed, manufactured and shipped from Honda's facility in Sakura, Japan.

"But I think, first, we have to understand what it is," Horner added.

"I think once all the strip-down has been done and we understand what the issue is then, hopefully, fixes can be put in place."

What happened to Tsunoda before the race?

With Tsunoda unable to even make it around to the grid to complete his reconnaissance lap after leaving the garage, AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost explained the issue.

"The oil pressure dropped and, therefore, we decided to stop," Tost told RacingNews365.com.

"We don't know yet whether we can use this engine or not [again], or what is exactly broken – we have to investigate."

With Red Bull seemingly not encountering any similar issues with the engines, due to their double retirement in Bahrain being linked to their fuel system, Tost is eager to get an explanation for the stoppages that affected his cars.

"I want to find out the reason why we are struggling with reliability," he said. "Because Red Bull aren't having any problem."

Gasly's Bahrain battery still en route to Japan

Gasly's dramatic exit from the Bahrain Grand Prix saw the French driver pulling over and off the track with the rear of his AT03 ablaze.

The damage to the car meant that Gasly wasn't able to reuse any of the power unit components, with the cause for the fire suspected of being linked to the Energy Store (i.e. battery).

Drivers are permitted just two of this component for the season and, with Gasly already onto his second, he will receive an engine grid penalty when he eventually requires another one.

Worse, the team won't have answers for that problem for quite some time. The electrical component is not permitted aboard an aircraft for shipping back to Japan, meaning that it has had to be put on a ship – and into special containment to ensure the safety of the vessel.

Electrical battery fires cannot be extinguished, due to what is known as 'thermal runaway'. This means the energy within the battery, whether it's full or 'empty', escapes in an uncontrolled manner, with the heat and gasses fuelling higher temperatures and emitting more gasses – creating a self-fulfilling loop that means firefighters can only control a fire, but not put it out.

"[It] is still on the way back to Japan because [it] cannot be flown by aeroplane," Tost explained.

"[The] battery has to be put in a sealed box of water and is now on the ship. We need to wait until they investigate what's going on in there."

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F1 2022 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix RN365 News dossier