Alonso, Button set for back-of-the-grid start

Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button are set to start at the back of the grid for the Belgian Grand Prix, with Honda poised for a double engine change over the weekend.

Honda is introducing a new specification engine for Spa, having used three of its remaining development tokens to improve its combustion performance.

But on the back of tweaks to engine rules that limit the penalty that drivers get for new power units, the Japanese manufacturer is preparing a plan for Alonso and Button to run their seventh and eighth engines.

The seventh engines will be fitted for Friday practice and, due to lengthy checks that Honda wants to conduct afterwards to check on its performance, it is expected to give the drivers their eighth engine from Saturday onwards.

A final decision will be made by Honda after Friday practice, but it is thought unlikely it will not take the opportunity to get an eighth engine into play.

New rules a help

Up until the Austrian Grand Prix such a double change would have resulted in a grid drop and further penalties in the race, but a tweak to the rules means that the maximum punishment a driver can get is being put to the back of the grid.

Button confirmed that he was heading in to the Spa weekend braced to start at the rear of the field.

"We will start at the back of the grid but with Turn 1 here you never know what is going to happen," he said.
"We would have been in the mid-pack [without penalties], so it can always end with a wheel missing at Turn 1. Starting at the back not such a bad thing, we might pick up four or five places…."

Upgrade hopes

Honda has high hopes that the improvements to its engine will deliver it a good step forward in power terms, but Button is not getting too carried away with the optimism.

"I think we have to wait and see," he said. "You don't really know until you drive it. There are some long straights here as well.

"It is always promising when you hear positive comments about the power unit so I'm looking forward to driving it.

"Hopefully we can see tomorrow how much it is giving us, as it is obviously a long lap. There is lots of time at full throttle."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Belgian GP
Track Spa-Francorchamps
Drivers Jenson Button , Fernando Alonso
Teams McLaren
Article type Breaking news