After the accident that the Dutchman suffered at Silverstone 15 days ago, it was feared that the engine would be completely useless.
Honda he had to take it to his Japanese R&D facility in Sakura for an in-depth analysis, and only after that was he able to judge whether or not it was salvageable.
But despite severe external damage to some components, the initial investigation is understood to have pointed to the sealed parts of the power unit actually surviving the 51G impact.
By replacing as many penalty-free components as possible, Honda is somewhat optimistic that the engine – which is the number two power unit of the season – can continue to be used without compromising performance.
However, while lab tests have raised hopes that Honda won’t have to introduce a new engine right now, the Japanese automaker still needs to get it running on the track to ensure it can keep racing.
Regulations restricting testing in Formula 1 make it virtually impossible to mount the engine in a car and test it properly outside of a grand prix weekend, so the plan is for it to roll in the Hungaroring.
Therefore, the British GP power unit is expected to be fitted to Verstappen’s car in practice on Friday, so that it can be properly analyzed and examined.
Once that initial break-in has been done, Honda can make a final decision on what the plans will be for this weekend, but also for the rest of the season.
If the power unit is okay, then Honda will keep it in reserve and take it out for the race again sometime for the rest of the season.
However, if it is decided that the engine has suffered damage that compromises its performance, then Honda and Red Bull will have to make a decision on when it would have to introduce a third and final power unit for the events.
Since the Hungaroring is not a circuit where power is highly required, Red Bull and Honda may choose to return to their first power unit for this weekend’s race.
Other manufacturers are likely to use older power units in an attempt to save their latest engines for the high-speed demands of the Spa and Monza circuits.
The introduction of a third power unit would not yet imply a penalty for Verstappen, but it would open the door to a penalty later in the season as the team would have a difficult time finishing the season without needing a fourth unit.