McLaren-Honda will bring a new spec engine to the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi this weekend, with the upgrades made available to Fernando Alonso, who will incur grid penalties as a result.
At the Belgian Grand Prix this year at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, team McLaren incurred a record total of 105 place penalties after both drivers received new internal combustion engines.
Teams are given development tokens at the beginning of the year that they may ‘spend’ on upgrades during the season, and McLaren, who have four remaining, have spent all of them upgrading Alonso’s car. The two-time World Champion will receive a new Internal Combustion Engine (ICE), a new motor-generator unit (heat) or the MGU-H and a new turbo unit for the race. His control electronics will also be replaced.
The team intended to make upgrades available to both Alonso and teammate Jenson Button, but according to to autosport.com were unable to manufacture them in time.
Both drivers were expected to put in good performances at the Singapore Grand Prix, a track conducive to McLaren’s vehicles; both, however, retired with gearbox issues. They have had repeated retirements this season and a series of dismal performances.
2005 and 2006 World Champion Alonso has had only one points finish this year at the Hungarian Grand Prix, with 7 retirements of the 14 Grands Prix so far. 2009 WDC Button has fared only marginally better, with two points finishes and 5 retirements.
McLaren confirmed late last month that Button would continue driving for them in the 2016 season, an announcement that came following several months of speculation that the Briton was set to retire from Formula One altogether.
Alonso, meanwhile, expressed his displeasure with Honda’s power units quite vocally at the recently concluded Japanese Grand Prix, where he was overtaken with ease by Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, shouting angrily that it felt like he was using a “GP2 engine”. He also called the result “embarrassing”, and has been open with his displeasure at the team’s repeated issues.
The team say they are next looking forward to the US Grand Prix, which is scheduled for the weekend of the 23rd of October in Austin, Texas. This upgrade will be their final one for the year, and although they would like to have it accessible to Jenson Button ahead of the race in Austin, motorsport chief Yasuhisa Arai said they were weighing the idea of a penalty at that race.