Honda have confirmed they will be bringing an updated engine to the Malaysian Grand Prix race weekend, and Fernando Alonso will be the driver to test it out during Friday practice at the Sepang International Circuit.
The upgrade will include a new internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-H, battery and control electronics, but will also see the Spaniard handed a 30-place grid penalty and therefore a back row start on Sunday.
The 35-year-old will run the new power unit in a bid to allow him enough components to see out the remainder of the season, without needing to take any further grid penalties. It is a work around Mercedes AMG PETRONAS driver Lewis Hamilton also used recently, after early season technical issues rapidly reduced the Brit’s available engines, which is also the case for Alonso.
In an attempt to improve efficiency, the Spaniard will also test out further new parts for the McLaren-Honda F1 team, which include a lighter engine block and a new exhaust arrangement.
To allow the introduction of the new engine, Honda have used two of their three remaining development tokens, leaving just one further token at the Japanese manufacturer’s disposal if needed, for the rest of the year.
The track at the Sepang International Circuit has recently been re-surfaced, which will make for an interesting test of grip levels this weekend, and although it is considered a high-speed venue, which would not ordinarily play to the MP4-31‘s strengths, it does have a good combination of slow and high-speed corners, that the cars prowess under braking should compliment.
Alonso has won the Malaysian Grand Prix on three previous occasions, and so the Spaniard will be looking for another strong result this weekend, which despite the inevitable grid penalty, the new updates will hopefully facilitate.