McLaren Honda drivers Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso will start from the back of the grid for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix after the team elected to fit a raft of new power unit elements to both drivers’ cars.

The team had predicted a number of grid penalties in the lead-up to this weekend’s race, after confirming that its engine partner Honda was bringing an updated-specification engine that would deliver improved power output.

Button earned a hefty 25-place grid drop; ten places for fitting his eighth Turbocharger (TC) of the season, plus a further five places apiece for an eighth Motor Generator Unit – Heat (MGU-H), and a seventh Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) and Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic (MGU-K).

Alonso went even better – if you could possibly call it that – with a 30-place grid drop. The Spaniard fitted a seventh element for the first time, which included a new ICE, TC and MGU-H. He was given further five-place grid penalties each for the installation of a sixth MGU-K and Control Electronic (CE).

That might not be the end of the penalties for the pair, however, as the team is expected to install an eighth power unit in both cars before the start of the 44-lap race. These will have no impact on their starting positions given they will be on the back of the grid anyway.

The combined grid penalty – whatever it may eventually amount to – for both drivers exceeds the 45-places ‘dropped’ at the Austrian Grand Prix, where both underwent numerous power unit element changes.

In that race, both had to serve further drive-through penalties as a result of being unable to fulfill the entire penalty, although neither last beyond the third lap of the race. The FIA’s further engine penalties rule was subsequently scrapped from the regulations, meaning the greatest penalty any driver could serve would be a demotion to the back of the grid.

Image via McLaren Media Centre

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.