Honda faces Alonso Spec 3 engine dilemma for British GP –, Edition: Global

Honda faces a dilemma over whether it should take grid penalties on Fernando Alonso’s McLaren at the British Grand Prix after suffering further failures in Austria.

Both Alonso and teammate Stoffel Vandoorne’s cars were fitted with the new more-powerful ‘Spec 3’ internal combustion engine for the Austrian GP weekend.

But overnight on Friday, Honda discovered a problem with the MGU-H – an upgraded spec that was introduced last time out in Baku as a countermeasure to a previous issue that centred around the bearing. 

While the rest of the ‘Spec 3’ engine was fine, Honda chose to revert to a ‘Spec 2’ power unit for the remainder of the Red Bull Ring event as it saved time.

The old MGU-H that was fitted was used on Saturday and Sunday in Monaco and all weekend in Canada.

Honda says it is possible that for Silverstone, it could run the ‘Spec 3’ engine with an older MGU-H, and therefore avoid penalties.

It hopes to have a fix for the problem as soon as possible and could fit that to Alonso’s engine, however that would incur a 10-place grid penalty as he will have further exceeded his allocation. 

If he takes a 10-place penalty for the change, it would then make sense to fit a completely fresh ‘Spec 3’ engine as Alonso will likely start from the back and make additional penalties irrelevant.

Given McLaren is expected to struggle on Silverstone’s high-speed layout, it could tactically take the penalties there rather than at the next race in Hungary, which offers a much stronger chance of a good result. 

“The Friday MGU-H is the newest one so we are very disappointed we had a failure,” Honda chief Yusuke Hasegawa told reporters. 

“It was updated from the last race but it wasn’t good enough so still we have to modify the specification.”

When asked if he expected Alonso to take penalties at Silverstone, Hasegawa said: “This is a point we have to consider, it is not decided yet.”

Honda is expected to leave a final decision until the eve of the British GP weekend.

Speaking about the engine change, Alonso said: “I think soon we will have another penalty maybe at Silverstone or Hungary but we will see.” 

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