SUZUKA, Japan — Fernando Alonso will receive a 35-place grid penalty at the Japanese Grand Prix after McLaren-Honda was forced to change his car’s power unit overnight.
The hydraulic issue was discovered after second practice as the team rebuilt the car and is the latest in a long list of reliability problems for Honda this year. The overnight change meant McLaren broke the mechanics’ curfew for the second time this year, leaving it with no more curfew exemptions for the rest of the season.
The change means Alonso has now used eight internal combustion engines, eight MGU-Ks, 10 MGU-Hs, 10 turbochargers, seven hybrid batteries and six control electronics this season. Under the regulations each driver is limited to four per season without penalty, meaning Alonso’s car is more than double its quota for some components this year.
The newly-fitted power unit is Honda’s spec 3.7 engine, which first ran on Stoffel Vandoorne’s car at the Belgian Grand Prix and is the same spec that was previously in Alonso’s car.
Combined with a lack of performance, Honda’s reliability issues is one of the main reasons McLaren will split with the Japanese manufacturer at the end of this year. McLaren is due to use Renault engines in 2018 and Honda will supply Toro Rosso.
Alonso was 12th fastest in first practice at Suzuka, which was the only dry session on Friday.