The uncharacteristic sound Jenson Button reported hearing to his engineers during the Saturday sessions in Bahrain, is now thought to have a possible link to the cause of the Brit’s retirement from the race on Sunday, and is now being investigated by Honda.
During his installation lap for the final practice session of the weekend, Button reported over team radio that he had heard a strange sound when off throttle, and then again after the qualifying, the 2009 World champion mentioned that something sounded amiss, however after a thorough investigation from the investigations overnight, no irregularities were found. Honda have now sent the power unit back to the factory, where extensive study will continue in order to pinpoint the exact reason for the failure in Sakhir.
When talking to motorsport.com, Honda F1 Engine Chief Yusuke Hasegawa, advised:
“It was obviously a power unit issue. Jenson mentioned that he lost power and there was some big noise, so he stopped the car by himself. It could be mechanical trouble but we don’t know yet.”
“Jenson mentioned he heard some small noise from the power unit from Saturday, but we didn’t see any issue on the data,” he said. “We didn’t see anything. We don’t know if that is related to the trouble.”
The weekend was not a complete loss for Honda however with Stoffel Vandoorne (standing in for Fernando Alonso who had been deemed unfit to race by the FIA), scoring the first points of the Woking based squad’s 2016 campaign, with a tenth place finish on his début. There were definite signs that the McLaren Honda had made some gains in performance across the weekend, with Jenson Button believing that had it not been for the technical issues, a P5 or P6 finish were definitely within his reach. It was a disappointing weekend for the McLaren man, who also had to contend with being out qualified by his rookie team-mate as well as missing out on a points scoring opportunity
Although positives can be taken from the Belgian’s strong showing at the Bahrain Grand Prix, on a weekend where there were retirements and incidents a plenty, McLaren will be kicking themselves that they could not take advantage of the situation and get both cars home.