Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is expecting his drivers to be hit with engine-related penalties in the second half of the 2019 Formula 1 season.

An aggressive development push in the search for performance from new power unit supplier Honda has seen the Japanese manufacturer already introduce all three of its permitted internal combustion engines (ICE) for the year during the opening 12 races of the season, meaning the next update will result in grid penalties.

Asked at the Hungarian Grand Prix if Red Bull will be faced with grid drops in the remaining nine rounds, Horner replied: “Inevitably.

“But we are not in the constructors’ championship [title fight], we are a significant way off in the drivers’ championship, so if there is a way to introduce new engines in the second half of the year that bring more performance and therefore more learning, then absolutely.

Honda F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe says his team is working hard on additional gains over the summer break, but remains in constant dialogue with both Red Bull and sister team Toro Rosso regarding when would be the best time to introduce a new engine and take a grid drop hit as a result.

“Of course we work through the break,” Tanabe told RACER.

“Not all the time – we will have some days off – but we keep working and then it’s the same situation as other teams.

“They improve, they analyze and then they improve for the rest of the season. We will be trying to do the same, so it’s the same situation as usual.

“As you know, we already applied our third unit [at the French Grand Prix]. That means our next step will need us to take a penalty.

“So we are always discussing the timing with the teams. We are finding [gains] them step-by-step.

“Whether a step is big or small is difficult to tell, but we always want to make a step and that’s what we’re planning.”

Honda has powered Red Bull to two victories so far this season, having scored its first grand prix win since 2006 in Austria.

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