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Alonso handed 35-place F1 grid penalty for Honda’s home race

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Fernando Alonso has been handed a 35-place grid penalty for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka after a hydraulic leak on his Honda Formula 1 power unit forced McLaren to make changes overnight.

McLaren broke its curfew for the second time this season so it could replace Alonso’s entire power unit following practice on Friday at Suzuka, triggering a 35-place penalty after taking a fresh set of elements.

Alonso will run with a new internal combustion engine, MGU-H, MGU-K, turbocharger, control electronics and energy store for the remainder of the Japan race weekend, racking up a 35-place grid drop in the process.

The changes were confirmed by FIA technical Jo Bauer in his report filed ahead of practice on Saturday, with the penalty formally set by the stewards later in the day.

Alonso finished 10th during qualifying at Suzuka, meaning he will start last behind the other penalized drivers.

The news comes as a setback for Honda at its home race weekend where it hoped to continue to build on its recent progress, having scored points in Singapore and Malaysia through Stoffel Vandoorne.

The McLaren-Honda partnership will conclude at the end of the season following three difficult years, with this weekend’s race being the last chance to record a points finish together.

Besides Alonso, Carlos Sainz Jr., Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and Jolyon Palmer will also take grid drops, resulting in a shaken up grid at Suzuka.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”