Fernando Alonso will have yet another engine change for Sunday’s British Grand Prix but Honda said the McLaren driver will escape a grid penalty because the damaged unit will be replaced with used components. Alonso and team mate Jenson Button were handed 25 place penalties at the previous race in Austria after using their fifth power units of the season, one more than Formula One’s allocation for the season.
Alonso, who returned to McLaren at the end of last year after five seasons with Ferrari, then failed to complete a lap during the race after former team mate Kimi Raikkonen crashed into him. “In Spielberg, Fernando was involved in an accident on the first lap of the race, and Jenson had a sensor failure issue. As a result, both cars were forced to retire,” said Honda’s motorsport head Yasuhisa Arai in a Silverstone preview.
“We have since completed thorough checks of both power units back at the factory, and we believe that Fernando’s power unit has sustained damage from the accident, and it may be necessary to change the engine. “As for Jenson’s power unit this weekend, the issue is still under investigation.”
A Honda spokeswoman confirmed that Alonso would need a new engine but said it would not be a brand new one but put together from components from within the allocation that remained serviceable. Alonso has yet to score any points in eight races while it would take a miracle for Button, who has four points to his credit, to appear on the Silverstone podium for the first time in his Formula One career this weekend.
“We won’t be on the podium this year,” the 35-year-old Briton, world champion with Brawn GP in 2009 and now the most experienced driver currently in Formula One, told reporters after Austria. “I don’t go into Silverstone thinking I might not ever finish on the podium. I still hold out hope…but you’ve got to be realistic and realise that is not possible right now.” Asked then what his late father John, a popular and much-missed paddock figure, would have said to the McLaren engineers about the team’s troubled start to the new partnership with Honda, Button replied with a smile.
“You don’t want to know what he would say. The team don’t want to know what he would say.”