McLaren drivers braced for back row start in Belgium

Both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button are set to start the Belgian Grand Prix from the back of the grid on Sunday as Honda are set to make a double engine change this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps.

A tweak in the rules about the penalties handed out for additional engine changes means the worst the two McLaren drivers can suffer is to be put to the back of the grid in Belgium, with Honda set to utilise their seventh and eighth power units of the season.

The seventh unit is set to be introduced ahead of free practice on Friday, with Honda having used three of its remaining tokens to upgrade the power unit for Spa, while the eighth is set to be brought in on Saturday.

This would enable McLaren to have two available updated engines to use for the next few events, meaning they will not take additional penalties in those races.

“We will start at the back of the grid but with Turn 1 here you never know what is going to happen,” said Button heading into the weekend.

“We would have been in the mid-pack [without penalties], so it can always end with a wheel missing at Turn 1. Starting at the back not such a bad thing, we might pick up four or five places….”