Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Hungaroring, 2015

Power unit changes to cost McLaren drivers 55 places

2015 Belgian Grand Prix

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Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Hungaroring, 2015Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button will lose a total of 55 places on the grid for the Belgian Grand Prix due to extensive changes to their power units this weekend.

Alonso has been penalised a total of 30 places – despite there only being 20 cars in the field and the grid having a maximum size of 26 – after changing his engine, turbochargers, MGU-H, MGU-K and control electronics. These incur one ten-place penalty plus four five-place penalties.

Button will lose 25 places on the grid after changing the same components with the exception of his electronics.

As they will not be able to serve either penalty in full, they would previously both have received further penalties during a race. However due to a recent rules change that is no longer the case.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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42 comments on “Power unit changes to cost McLaren drivers 55 places”

  1. Blimey, McLaren will be so far back they’ll be starting in Hungary!

    Although that’d probably work out better for them…

    1. They got lucky in Hungary, perhaps that’s not a bad idea. I’m just wondering how much pain can these 2 absorb during this last 9 races. Most of them are quite fast tracks.

  2. In the end they’ll just lose two places each.

    1. But they will have beaten their own record of penatly spots, not something to sneeze at in an otherwise rather forgettable season eh @jeff1s

  3. Look at their times – so much for matching Ferrari’s PU!

    1. Maybe that’s why they’re changing the lot.

      Now seriously. Probably they posted those times for the same reason they will only do a couple of laps on Q1 tomorrow: to save whatever good components they still have left.

      1. I have a feeling there are no good components at all. Honda just does nothing to improve in the real world.
        They only tell that “reliability issues will not be a concern”, and then they fail to finish a full race distance. Here, they change again two engines in two days.
        I haven’t seen any serious improvement of their PU. In Hungary, they were 49 seconds back by the 23rd lap. And it was not Lewis in the fastest car in the first place. Honda fails again and again. Such a shame.

        1. This is season one. Making an engine surely is not a one season project. I think given the restrictions on development, what can we expect?

        2. it isn’t Honda’s fault, it is the restrictive development rules. if you make an engine inferior to the best at first go, you can never catch up, where as in previous years you could – as such it was a lottery that Mercedes won, and the others will never be a match under these stupid rules. Honda has to do the PR speak to save face, but everyone knows they don’t have a chance.

    2. @fletchuk watching the in-car camera feed which has the live telemetry graphics the actual top speed was much closer to the other cars than it has been so far this year.

      the mercedes were both maxing out at 330kph, Ferrari’s 328kph & the mclarens 225kph.
      at hungary they were 15kph off the mercedes & ferrari’s on the run to turn 1.

      1. it was also implied on sky that they won’t be fitting the new spec engine until tomorrow & that not all the new energy recovery bits were on the car yet either.

      2. Surely 325, 225 would explain everything ;)

  4. What a farce. it is rather embarrassing being an F1 fan sometimes!

    1. Why? Surely them not getting penalties in the race is a good thing?

      Or should we have no penalties for going over engine limit? Should we go back to one engine a race?

      I think the current solution is quite good really.

      1. the one engine a race ironically cost less and sounded better, so yes we should go back to that, it also lets teams catch up if they are behind rather then a totally predicatable season.

  5. Clever use of the rules to use 2 new engines this weekend and get 1 grid drop penalty for this race only so 2 new engines for the last 9 races. Imagine the uproar if Ferrari or Mercedes took a grid drop at 1 race but introduce 10 engines over the weekend, that would allow 10 engines for the rest of the year. Might be an idea once you have the final spec of your engine to try this and have a new engine every race until the end of the year.

    1. Yeah they should close that loophole

    2. I don’t understand the comment. 2 new engines for the last nine races is roughly what you’d expect…four engines for 19/20 races. You can’t introduce a new engine twice in a race weekend without a valid reason, i.e. ICE went boom.

      1. It appears that is exactly what they are doing. One engine today and then an engine change for both cars over not. I wouldn’t be surprised to see McLaren do this for the rest of the season in order to test more things on the engines. They have no real options given the lack of testing.
        I’m an avid Ferrari fan but I must say, I want to see McLaren make real gains this year and next for the sake of F1

        1. Over night…whoops

    3. All teams should just take a new engine at each race. In reverse qualifying order so the penalties are applied sequentially and have no effect.

      I suspect Mercedes wouldn’t go for that.

      1. Sounds like a massive waste of money.

  6. They can just line up at Stavelot on Sunday morning. Have a Marshall yell when the lights go out.

    1. If they start there they might blow up before they cross the start line to start the 1st lap.

      1. Hilarious :-D

    2. @n0b0dy100 You guys crack me up. 2 good laughs today: first with the Crashtor tracking website, now these deadpan lines. Wipin’ my eyes, been laughing so hard. Who knew such black humor was so good for the soul!

      Love this place.

  7. If you needed any further proof that the rules in F1 are just ridiculous, then this headline should do it. 55 place grid penalty. But not really because it doesn’t carry over after this race. So really, it’s not. So it’s just a number that means nothing and does nothing. Not to sound jingoist or anything, but sometimes I wonder how much more common-sense the rule-book would be if we Americans were righting it. Then again, if that were the case, the races would be attended by bare-chested rednecks with beer bellies who are just there to see the crashes.

    1. spelling error — “writing.” Or, wait…. maybe “righting” isn’t quite such an error after all….

    2. I don’t know if Americans can right anything… they allow children to buy guns but forbid them from getting kinder eggs…

      1. Neither are allowed at government funded schools, at home is different.

  8. I guess this means Mclaren will start at Hungary while the rest of the field starts from Belgium.

  9. Honda have shot themselves in the foot by announcing Ferrari-like PU performance. It’s not happening, and people are disappointing, but progress seems to have been made:

    In Hungary in qualifying, Alonso’s fastest time was 3,1 % off the pace of Hamilton’s pole time. At other tracks, they have been 2,9% off the pace at best. Today Button was only 2.3 % off Rosberg’s quickest time. Now obviously today was not qualifying, and certainly not everybody was showing their hand, especially Williams. But if Mclaren-Honda can turn that engine up some more, reasonable pace should be expected.

    1. 2.3% flatters them because the lap is so long, on a 110 second lap it is 2.5 seconds. They were losing something like 0.8 seconds in the first sector alone on friday, it’ll have to be a fairly massive jump to get them close.

      1. @williamstuart, I don’t see your point. When comparing the percentage of lap time deficit, it does not matter how long the lap is. Likewise, if they find say 5 hp more overnight by tweaking software, that would help them over the whole lap, thus making good gains.

        Do note that, like I said, these numbers are irrelevant and true data won’t be available until all teams show what they’ve got.

    2. @me4me

      Honda have shot themselves in the foot by announcing Ferrari-like PU performance.

      I wonder if there was a mistranslation/misunderstanding there. It was such a ridiculous thing to say, and absolutely no one believed it.

  10. So basically a team can bring 10 engines for a weekend and have to start last only once? I understand the need no to accumulate sanctions, but the loophole seems a bit big.

    Anyways Honda is so far behind that anything that cuts them some slack is welcome for the sake of competition, even if it feels somewhat unfair.

    1. Ron Brooks (@)
      22nd August 2015, 5:37

      But wouldn’t they have to install all 10 engines and run them briefly over the weekend? That would take some doing..

  11. So their penalty is that instead of starting 16th/17th on the grid, they’ll line up 19th/20th?

    Reality is, Honda are so far off the mark this year, it is just a farce, McLaren have tried to support them early on in the year, now they’re slowly distancing themselves out in the public with comments suggesting Honda get some outsiders to assist them, and to offer their own guys to work closer with them. When you read in between the lines, it suggests that the issue has been isolated to the engine and McLaren have their hands tied about trying to resolve the problem.

    McLaren have been short on sponsors this year, this current campaign of theirs will probably see another dry spell of sponsorship next year too. McLaren I think are in danger of falling permanently back in the field, especially in this engine manufacturer dominated era of F1. Once they fall out of the cycle of losing sponsorship, the realities will mean that they’ll have to downsize their operations, and at which point, they’ll find themselves in a similar position to what Williams are currently facing, with the passion and personnel that can win championships, but lacking the funds to make that final step.

    I hope I’m wrong.

    1. @dragoll The only reason they don’t have a title sponsors it’s because Dennis is uncompromising about the fees, not because they lack candidates. While the intelligence of such an attitude is up to discussion, it tells us something about McLaren’s finances: they are quite healthy, for now at least.

      Also McLaren has done something Williams never did, which is branching out from F1. They have the road car division and the applied technology division running from the MTC.

      Of curse, none of what I stated warrants them a healthy financial position in the future. Quite difficult to stay financially healthy if you keep having seasons like these last three.

  12. stupid rules.

  13. I just had a crazy brainwave – drivers who have penalties that exceed what they can possibly serve should do a Le Mans – style start.

  14. I can put money on the McLaren Honda partnership achieving zero podiums, zero win, zero championships in their renewed partnership. I would be shocked if they work together beyond 2016, and I would be even more shocked if Honda ever return to this sport again

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