Fernando Alonso will receive a thirty-five place grid penalty for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, which will see him start from the back of the grid, after the McLaren-Honda F1 Team decided to change his engine following a water leak in the ERS, sustained during FP1.
It had been thought that the Spaniard would switch to an old engine specification for FP2 so as not to incur any penalties, but the Woking based squad opted to use an all new power unit, which will see the double world champion take a new ICE, MGU-H, MGU-K, turbo, control electronics and energy store, his sixth of each component, hence the rather large grid penalty.
It does mean that Alonso will get to use the upgraded engine on Sunday’s race, but he has it all to do now after being unable to put in a timed lap during the first practice session of the weekend, having spent the majority of FP1 in the garage, whilst mechanics worked on his car earlier today.
The Japanese manufacturer used seven of its ten remaining development tokens prior to the Belgian race weekend, in order to allow updates to their power unit, specifically the turbo compressor and internal combustion engine, which they hope will provide an overall boost in performance to the MP4-31, rather than just a power advance.
The benefits expected from the engine upgrade may not be immediately apparent at the circuit de Spa-Francorchamps however, due to the characteristics of the track not really suiting the McLaren machine. The Woking based squad instead expect a circuit such as Singapore to be a more likely judge of how well the new specification power unit has worked, which the F1 pack will visit in two rounds time.