Fernando Alonso says McLaren-Honda still targets placing its two cars in the points-paying positions at this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, despite the Spaniard carrying a 30-place grid penalty at Sepang.
As recently hinted by head of F1 project Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda has introduced its latest power unit upgrade in Malaysia, which cost two tokens and focuses on the engine block and exhaust.
Only Alonso will run the upgrade this weekend, using his ninth internal combustion engine (ICE) of the season, with the Japanese manufacturer also providing the two-time world champion with a new turbo, MGU-H, energy store (ES), and control electronics (EC).
“We’re ready to take the penalty,” commented Alonso, who had already suffered a 60-place grid drop in Spa-Francorchamps, where Honda had introduced its previous engine evolution.
“We knew we had a plan from the middle of the season of where to introduce new engines. I lost one in Australia in the accident, and we were on engine number two in the second race. We had some further problems.
“So we knew these penalties would come, and one of the best places was Spa because of the conditions of our engines at that point.
“The second best was maybe Malaysia because the weather could play a big factor in the race, and also Japan is the next race, our home grand prix, and we want to arrive there with some safety in terms of reliability.”
Despite the setback, Alonso looks to emulate his result from an action-packed Belgian Grand Prix, where he was able to climb all the way from the back of the grid to seventh at the flag.
“In Spa, starting last, I was fourth or fifth after many incidents, so you never know,” the 35-year-old added.
“We will start the weekend and the race optimistic about the chance of being in the points, and that’s the target for both cars, even if I start last then hopefully we can recover places quite soon.”