Hartley Could Face Grid Penalty in France after Power Unit Issue in FP2

by Paul Hensby
Brendon Hartley - Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda

Brendon Hartley could be in line for a grid penalty this weekend at the Circuit Paul Ricard after a power unit failure during second practice on Friday afternoon left him stranded at the side of the track.

The Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda was forced to park his car at the exit of the chicane on the Mistral Straight, with something inside the power unit failing, and Hartley, already using his last allotted unit for the season, could receive penalties if the unit requires changing to a new one this weekend.

“It was a disappointing end of the first practice day for me here in Le Castellet, as something happened with the PU in the final minutes of FP2,” said Hartley, who ended fifteenth fastest in the session.  “I don’t have the exact details yet, but we had to cut the session short.

“Now the team needs to investigate and try to find out what exactly the problem was.”

Honda F1 Technical Director Toyoharu Tanabe says the Japanese manufacturer will investigate just what went wrong with Hartley’s power unit, and once they know the extent of the damage, they will decide what to do for Saturday’s running.

“We encountered a problem on Brendon’s PU in the last few minutes of the second session and we will now have to investigate the cause and how bad is the damage, before deciding how to proceed for the rest of the weekend,” said Tanabe.

Despite the issue, Hartley feels the team can be positive about their chances of points this weekend, particularly with the kind of pace that team-mate Pierre Gasly achieved across both Friday sessions.

“However, I think it was a relatively smooth day before that,” said the New Zealander.  “The pace has been pretty good across the two cars and Pierre has done competitive laps on the softer compounds in FP2.

“We definitely have potential in the car and we will work hard overnight to maximise everything for tomorrow.”

Tanabe was also positive about the pace of the STR13 on Friday, and feels Gasly showed there is potential in the car as they strive to add to the nineteen points they’ve earned across the opening seven races of the season.

“Pierre’s pace looked quite good, which is positive for the rest of his weekend,” said Tanabe.  “We spent the morning session optimising energy management and we feel there is still some more work to do on this aspect of our performance.”

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