SPIELBERG, Austria (AP) — McLaren driver Fernando Alonso will start the Austrian Grand Prix from the back of the grid and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo dropped 10 places because they used up their four allocated engines.
Alonso has taken his fifth Honda power unit and Ricciardo his fifth Renault unit. Teams are allowed only four per driver for the season before incurring penalties.
Alonso’s drop of 20 places was greater because the Spanish driver was also using a fifth turbocharger and a fifth MGU-H – an exhaust energy recovery system – each of which incur further five-place drops.
Alonso faces further time penalties unless he qualifies on pole position — because otherwise he would not be able to drop the required number of positions.
Those penalties, either a five-second penalty or a 10-second stop-go penalty, depend on the number of unused places on the grid.
Alonso was expecting his team to make the switch here, because the Red Bull Ring circuit does not suit McLaren, and so they had little expectation.
It therefore made more sense to take the fifth engine here than on a track where McLaren may fare better, such as the British GP in two weeks, or the Hungarian GP in late July. The timing also suits McLaren because there are some testing runs next week in Spielberg.
“Hopefully, we go out of this weekend with some answers, and there is the test next week as well,” Alonso said. “Important days ahead for us.”
Alonso, a two-time F1 champion with 32 race wins, has endured a tough time since switching from Ferrari to McLaren this year. He has retired from the past three races and has yet to score a point.
Still, he remains optimistic that McLaren — which has scored just four points through its other driver Jenson Button — will improve later, once the team becomes more accustomed to the transition back to Honda engines.
“We expect a lot from the car in the next month or two months. So we will see how we end up before summer and how we end up at the end of the year,” Alonso said. “I see the program that we have in terms of chassis and in terms of engine. I see the resources, the talent of the team, so it’s a question of time when we will be competitive.”
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.