If the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team thought things were tough going in Monaco two rounds ago, then they will be equally disconsolate that their drivers will once again be hit with grid penalties, ahead of this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Both Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne will receive MGU-H changes and will run new turbo chargers in Baku, which will result in fifteen place grid penalties apiece, with each driver having used their sixth component of the season.
Failure after failure of the Honda engine has plagued the Woking based squad this season, but the Japanese manufacturer have finally produced a counter measure that they hope will resolve their ongoing dilemma.
Unfortunately implementing the update, which will hopefully boost performance, will inadvertently put them at a disadvantage, when they are pushed down the order by the sanctions imposed. It will therefore not be until the following round, that we will truly understand their impact.
Alonso will also be given a new internal combustion engine, his fourth of the year, after his engine gave way with just three laps remaining at the Canadian Grand Prix last time out. The Spaniard had looked set to score McLaren’s first point of the year, before bad luck struck, and he was forced to retire from the race.
Vandoorne will receive his new power unit, excluding the electronics and energy recovery system, after second practice, before switching to the latest combustion engine, that will be the Belgian’s seventh of 2017, and will trigger a further fifteen place grid drop.
Speaking in the driver’s press conference today, Vandoorne was unsure as to whether the updates will actually make much difference this weekend, especially in light of the penalties both drivers have already incurred before they even take to the track.
“Difficult to say to be honest, I think probably more a question for Honda. I don’t think it will be too different.”
“We have some penalties already to start the weekend, which is not ideal, but this is the situation we are in.
“We will try to do our best, focus maybe a bit more on race runs and hopefully we can play a bit during the race.
“We are probably competing to start from the back of the grid.”
Honda meanwhile, have confirmed that they will be testing a number of updates during Friday practice and will then make a decision, after studying the performance data, on whether to use them for the rest of the weekend.