On Friday, Motorsport.com reported that Honda Performance Development have found and replaced a component that caused the Indianapolis 500 engine failures of Fernando Alonso, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Charlie Kimball. HPD President Art St. Cyr, would not specify the exact part, but did state that the failure shows up in one of every eight Honda engines.
“There is no plan right now to do a wholesale change of our engines. Right now, it looks like [the failure] happens in about one out of every eight engines.”
Honda have had a slew of failures over the course of the season, notably during the Indy 500. St. Cyr stated that new component changed units will be in select cars for next weekend’s Iowa Corn 300.
While that is fine and shows that HPD are doing their due diligence to prevent future breakdowns; it does not matter.
Current points leader Scott Dixon is in a Honda-powered Chip Ganassi Racing machine, and has stated that luck more than anything, led to his win at Road America. That is why the replaced Honda units don’t matter. Because of confidence.
Chevy-powered cars have not suffered with reliability issues, Spencer Pigot’s turbocharger blowing up at the Indy 500 notwithstanding. Because of this, Chevy cars can be pushed by their drivers more than Honda cars. This will be key as the season enters its latter half.
Chevy car drivers will not hesitate to apply the throttle or stretch a stint because they know their engines will not fail. Alternatively, Honda drivers will hope that coasting will ease the heat and pressure on their engines.
With the issue affecting one in every eight engines and no complete overhauls planned; that doesn’t exactly build driver confidence in reliability. Even if drivers of the revised engines aren’t pushing, the probability of a possible failure is high since Honda supply engine to two-thirds of the grid. It is a high-risk game of Russian roulette that drivers don’t want to play, especially if they are fighting for a win or even the Championship.
HPD are adamant that the reliability risk has been lessened and drivers can push for the rest of the season, but St. Cyr says they did not rule it out for the Indy 500.
“In that case, we were willing to make that tradeoff (performance over reliability). If it was going to fail every engine, then maybe not.
“Every circumstance is different, but in this case, we were willing to make that call. You’re at risk every year.”
If you return next year Alonso, be careful.