McLaren-Honda F1 Team drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button will receive engine upgrades at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, after the Japanese manufacturer spent seven of its remaining development tokens to allow changes to its compressor, combustion chamber and turbo, which in particular will be worked hard at the Spa track. That leaves the Woking based squad with three tokens left to use across the remainder of the season.
The improvements should bring an all-around performance advantage to the MP4-31 rather than focusing on one key area, but it is hoped that a boost in power will also be achieved through the new parts, which should hopefully be apparent in Spa and at the subsequent race in Monza.
The power units will initially be trialled during the Friday practice sessions to evaluate the updates, and a decision will then be made as to whether it is worth running them in qualifying and the race. Both drivers are now nearing the limit on power unit component usage, with Alonso having maxed out on all six parts and so would receive a penalty for any further engine changes. Button meanwhile has used his fifth combustion engine, turbo charger, MGU-K and MGU-H.
The McLaren-Honda F1 team have improved gradually race by race this season, but although they have made a big step forward from where they were this time last year, they are still some way off the levels of performance a team of their stature would expect to achieve.
The outlook is positive however and both the Woking based squad’s drivers believe the team are headed in the right direction, despite their lack of competitiveness right now. The rule changes coming in for 2017 could also provide McLaren with a great opportunity to level the playing field with the opposition.