Stockpiling Honda engines paid off, says McLaren
McLaren's strategy of taking penalty hits in recent races by "stockpiling" Honda power units paid off for Fernando Alonso in Brazil, according to the team's racing director Eric Boullier.
Some weeks ago McLaren targeted Interlagos and Abu Dhabi as races which would prove more favourable to the package than other venues.
The team tried to ensure clean weekends at those venues by taking penalties elsewhere, and adding fresh power units to the available pool.
In Brazil Alonso used one power unit on Friday and change to another on Saturday without penalty, and he was able to start sixth and run without problems through the race to an eventual seventh place.
"We obviously took a lot of energy penalties before to try to protect Brazil and Abu Dhabi," Boullier told Motorsport.com.
"We used a lot of engines before just to make sure we had fresh parts for here. You have to try something, and we decided to protect some mileage.
"In Mexico we were more competitive than expected, and here we had a good race as well. So it was good to have a trouble-free weekend."
McLaren is hoping that the semi street track nature of Abu Dhabi will favour the car: "Sector one and three should be good, sector two will be more difficult obviously, so we'll see."
Boullier also praised Alonso for the way he raced in Brazil, despite the obvious handicap of poor straightline speed.
"He managed very well the way he was using the energy of the car, cutting off in the unnecessary part of the track, and using more in the straightline.
"He tried to manage it himself a lot, and did a very good job. The plan was to stay in the DRS of Massa to protect ourselves, this was the only way."
He acknowledged that it was encouraging to see Alonso able to fight: "He was able to do it a little bit today, and hopefully next year he will be able to do it at every race."
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