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McLaren forced to issue a fresh F1 engine to Fernando Alonso following Australian Grand Prix crash

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McLaren forced to issue a fresh F1 engine to Fernando Alonso following Australian Grand Prix crash
Mar 29, 2016, 6:19 PM

Fernando Alonso is already onto the second engine from his allocation of five for the 2016 Formula 1 season after his first engine was damaged beyo...

Fernando Alonso is already onto the second engine from his allocation of five for the 2016 Formula 1 season after his first engine was damaged beyond repair in his Australian Grand Prix crash.

The double world champion, whose 2015 season also began with a heavy accident in testing, made contact with the rear of Esteban Gutierrez’s Haas F1 car and slammed into the barriers at around 300km/h on lap 16 of the Melbourne race before rolling through the Turn 3 gravel trap.

It has also been revealed that the impact, which momentarily peaked at 46g, broke Alonso's seat.

A McLaren spokesman said: "The fact that the seat cracked but was not broken means it did its job well: specifically, it flexed helpfully, as it was designed to do, and it efficiently absorbed a lot of the energy of the accident."

Although Alonso was able to walk away from the wreckage of his MP4-31 machine, McLaren’s engine supplier Honda has confirmed that it will replace the Spaniard’s power unit ahead of this weekend’s race in Bahrain.

Yusuke Hasegawa

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda’s F1 project chief, said: “We have recovered the power unit from Fernando’s car used in Melbourne.

“After initial investigations, we are massively disappointed that the ICE and most of the surrounding parts have been heavily damaged, as the impact from the accident was just too great. We will be replacing the complete power unit in Bahrain.

“The matter is out of our hands now, but obviously we will be massively disappointed that we have lost a power unit in the first race of the season.”

Fernando Alonso

F1’s regulations require power units to be used across the 2016 season and each driver has a maximum of five available throughout the year. The six individual elements of the engine can be replaced at will without incurring a penalty as long as they are within the permitted allocation.

In 2015, which was McLaren’s worst F1 season since 1980, the British team used 12 engines for Alonso and his teammate Jenson Button.

Boullier – “encouraging leap made from testing to Melbourne”

Eric Boullier

Eric Boullier, McLaren’s racing director, praised his team’s efforts to build Alonso a new car around a spare chassis and explained that despite the crash in Australia, the team was confident it had made progress during the over season based on the data it had gathered at the first race.

He said: “I’d like to say a huge thank you to all our McLaren and Honda employees for the incredible efforts going on behind the scenes to get the spare chassis built and ready to race next weekend.

“It’s a truly remarkable achievement in between flyaway races, and a testament to our incredibly strong teamwork.

Fernando Alonso

“We’re certainly hoping for a less dramatic race in Bahrain, and will be aiming to build on the promising initial data we’ve collected from our car, which shows a definite improvement in pace from last year’s package.

“There’s still much more potential to unlock and performance to find, but the encouraging leap made from testing to Melbourne has shown what’s possible, and we will keep pushing to improve our pace and develop our strengths by continuing to bring updates to the car at every race.”

Alonso “hugely impressed” by repair efforts

Fernando Alonso

Alonso explained that he had fully recovered from the dramatic crash, which was severe enough to bring out the red flags, and he too applauded McLaren and Honda’s efforts to get a new car ready in time for Bahrain.

He said: “I’ve spent some time resting and I can’t wait to get back in the car. Although on paper Melbourne wasn’t a great race for us, before the crash I’d been having some good battles and the car felt pretty promising, so I hope in Bahrain we can experience more of the same.

“There’s also been a massive effort from the teams in Woking and Sakura, who have been flat-out manufacturing parts for this race to ensure we can get back up to speed after the chassis was damaged, and I’m hugely impressed with how quickly they’ve managed to turn it around.”

Button on Melbourne mistakes

Jenson Button

Button, who finished a lap down in 14th place in Australia, described how McLaren had made a few strategic errors in the first race of 2016, which was also the first time F1’s new tyre rules had come into effect.

For 2016 teams and drivers can now choose between three different compounds of Pirelli rubber, a rule that drew praise after the Australian race, but Button believes McLaren has learned from its mistakes.

He said: “We made a couple of misjudgements on the strategy side in Melbourne, but it’s all part of the learning curve with the new tyre compound rules.

“Together with the engineers we’ve studied the data and hopefully we can make some good calls in Bahrain, pull together the various stages of the race and achieve a more representative result.”

Fernando Alonso

What did you make of McLaren’s start to 2016? Will losing a power unit so early on hurt the team later on in the season? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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Series Formula 1
Drivers Fernando Alonso Shop Now
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