Honda reverts to older ‘spec two’ engine after Alonso’s practice failure

2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Honda has reverted to using its previous specification power unit following the problem which stopped Fernando Alonso yesterday.

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier said Alonso’s stoppage was caused by a gearbox problem.

The Japanese manufacturer brought a ‘spec three’ version of its engine to Azerbaijan this weekend and both McLaren drivers started the weekend with new turbos and MGU-Hs. But they had to change parts again ahead of final practice, leaving them with 70 places of grid penalties.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
“We expected qualifying to be a challenge today,” Honda F1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa admitted. “It was doubly tough for everyone in the team as we knew we’d be starting at the back of the grid with penalties whatever this afternoon’s result.”

For the first time this year both McLarens failed to reach Q2, contrary to Hasegawas’s expectations.

“We thought we had the potential to get in to Q2 here,” he said. “Therefore it was disappointing that both cars were out in the first session.”

“We’ve reverted back to the spec-two engine after Fernando’s issue in FP2, but we saw some positive PU power improvements yesterday so I think they would have put us further up the grid.”

McLarne racing director Eric Boullier said the team’s double Q1 exit was “particularly disappointing”.

“We always knew that we’d be towards the back due to the engine penalties both drivers have taken this weekend, but it’s never satisfying to be right at the back of the grid.”

Vandoorne has also received a further five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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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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    19 comments on “Honda reverts to older ‘spec two’ engine after Alonso’s practice failure”

    1. In the words of Alonso – “just do whatever you want man…”

      1. @todfod Exactly! Although I cannot understand why they would go back? In all seriousness, they have 0 points and 9/10 races both their engines fail somewhere between the middle and end of the race. What point is there in delaying anything? Just go with it, make it 100 positions penalty for the race for that matter, every single race. Clearly what Honda is doing and showing on the dyno doesn’t work on track, so just drive the spec 3 on track (preferably with 2 drivers), see how far it goes and learn from that. Then next race spec 4 and so on. Even for die-hard Alonso/McLaren/Vandoorne fans it doesn’t matter if they fail in lap 1 or the last lap. And it also doesn’t matter if they turn out to be slower than the previous spec.

        Honda can bring the fastest engine there is next race, even faster than Mercedes, but if it keeps on failing every single race, then it doesn’t matter even if they are 2 seconds faster. You might get a lucky race win (or point in the current situation), but even then you end the season with less points than Williams/FI currently have. That’s not what McLaren and Honda are in F1 for.

        1. I think the issue is that the new engine doesn’t play nice with the gearbox. So even more nonsense.

    2. Qualifying went as expected for McLaren. So we can now establish that the engine failure that was a gearbox failure according to the team was indeed an engine failure?

      1. Maybe the new spec engine was so powerful it trashed the transmission.

    3. Edsel Ramirez
      24th June 2017, 18:32

      This is frustrating for a McLaren fan. Is almost like the Boston Red Sox here in the states, they win the World Series one year and suck very bad the next year with the same players.

    4. I kind of feel that McLaren should just stop participating this year, save their money, and just develop next year’s car without Honda.

      1. Giving in is the least sportive and challenge thing to do.
        It would be an insult to mclaren and honda and the drivers/crew!

        I think Honda is really going forward but, “ferrari/mercedes are going forward also, maybe a bit more even”.
        So the increase isn’t noticed so much and it was slow on understanding what they could change.

        Honda thought they had a good starting concept, but it turned out different on the circuit.
        They can’t redesign the complete puzzle so they can only tweak away there weaker design points.
        So that the complete package becomes stronger and less compromised en wich the releabilty increases.
        It is all intertwined.

    5. It was said today on TV that McLaren are locked into the Honda contract…which sounds about right or surely they would walked by now…..but also Toto said that they had a engine guy helping Honda out now……so surely it has to improve……and the moon is made out of cheese etc etc

      1. so surely it has to improve


        I think the one thing that Honda has proved over the last 3 years is that they will not improve.

        1. Hond has improved there package, they have not gone up the ladder compared to others.

    6. There is no level of adjectives or expletives that could even come close to adequately expressing the pain McLaren is experiencing right now. The worst part is having no relief in sight and no logical possible alternative plans whatsoever for the rest of 2017. What a horrible, hopeless spot for the entire team to be in. Even for non-fans of McLaren there must be at least a slight measure of sympathy.

      Oh for the days of the garagistas to be able to wrench the worthless lump out of there and jimmy in any other barely gasping substitute motor that would at least get you around the track until the race weekend is over. Sigh…

    7. This has gone beyond believable. I never expected that Honda would manage to get so low. After 3 years still doing worse than anybody else was in the first year. What an utter embarrassment to the whole company…

      1. Andre Furtado
        25th June 2017, 0:05

        I agree. I really thought Honda would perform quite well. But after watching Indy and seeing all those engine failures including Alonso himself. I’m surprised Honda doesn’t quit motosport all together.

      2. Posted this on another article earlier. Even more relevant now:

        How much humility is Honda looking for? How can they be this lost for this long? They have probably set a grid penalty record over the last few years. I skipped watching Monaco to watch Alonso race the Indy 500 and then his Honda engine blew. I suppose they only want to sell lawnmowers from here on out.

    8. By older spec do they mean a 2016 engine?

    9. Fernando deserves his fate for having the shady Briatore running his career.

    10. For anyone in need of a good laugh. :D Don’t miss Alonso’s comments. Ah for sure time does fly.

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