During the COVID pandemic, Honda worked to improve its engines. Honda rivals could not work during the pandemic, while Japan had its hands free to work on their engines. Ferrari revealed that they were working on improving their engines, but that the pandemic stopped them "We were doing developments for this season that we will not be able to introduce during [the season] itself because we had a long shutdown period before the start of the season, which has not been the case for other power unit manufacturers by the way."
- as quoted by autosport The agreement was that during a pandemic, everyone has the same rules "The shutdown for Honda was a bit different to the shutdown for the rest of the manufacturers," explained Tombazis.
"Not in terms of duration, but in terms of when it happened. "The reason for that was that all teams and all power unit manufacturers accepted that during this extraordinary condition with the lockdown, no team or manufacturer would get added lockdown compared to others just because they happened to be in a particular country which was worse hit by COVID and therefore happened to be at a disadvantage.
Honda has done its job before and now others have to keep up with their pace. "That was mainly relevant for example when Italy went in to early lockdown and the UK were behind. We said all the lockdowns had to be equal: there cannot be a team or a manufacturer that has an advantage or disadvantage from them."
"Japan had a completely different evolution of COVID and the lockdown situation," added Tombazis. "We didn't know when we agreed these rules in early April whether Japan would have a lockdown in the summer, depending on how COVID evolved in Japan.
So we had to give some flexibility for Honda to have the shutdown a bit later. "If there had a legal requirement to go into lockdown in July in Japan, [it would have been hard] then go back to the European teams and say, by the way we need to lock you down another month because Japan is locking down.
"That's why Honda were able to do some work while the Europeans were in lockdown and they are making up for this now. "It's not perfect because you can't produce a regulation which is perfectly equitable when people are in different circumstances. But that's the best we could do with it."