McLaren Honda is another team expecting to face further struggles – and the possibility of more engine-change penalties – at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, although it is confident of making further progress over the rest of the season.
Honda has used some of its development tokens and it set to introduce a new-specification power unit at Spa-Francorchamps, but these new motors will mean both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button will take a grid penalty ahead of Sunday’s 44-lap race.
The high-speed Ardennes circuit is unlikely to deliver a repeat of the team’s first double-points’ finish last time out in Hungary – where Alonso and Button finished fifth and ninth respectively – and is instead expected to expose the team’s well-documented weaknesses in its reunification year with Honda.
“This weekend’s free practices will be important to test the pairing of the power units to the cars,” Honda motorsport chief Yasuhisa Arai said.
“The Belgian race, however, will surely be a difficult one for the team and drivers, with expected grid penalties and a long and unforgiving power circuit.”
Arai is confident, however, that the lessons from the weekend will serve as a launchpad to a more competitive second half of the season, which will see no less than nine Grands Prix over the next fourteen weekends.
“Nevertheless, McLaren-Honda’s focus is to improve race by race. We know we can learn a lot from the circuit for immediate future, and hope that we can come out of the weekend with some positives.”
These were sentiments also expressed by McLaren’s racing director, Eric Boullier, who added: “Spa is a truly spectacular circuit – arguably the best on the calendar for many – but, given the unique power and downforce package required, the track won’t play to our strengths.
“Therefore, of course, we must be measured in our optimism, and we will need to wait for Singapore and beyond before we can see the fruits of our labours reflected on track.”
The summer break has presented both its drivers with an opportunity to rest and recharge, although Jenson Button and his wife Jessica Michibata endured a terrifying ordeal in the Englishman’s holiday villa in France when their home was burgled and the pair was reportedly rendered unconscious after the robbers apparently pumped a toxic gas into the house’s air conditioning prior to the robbery.
The Englishman has kept quiet about the incident, but has seemingly recovered quickly, posting a post-triathlon photo on his Instagram account over the weekend.
Image via McLaren Media Centre
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