Fernando Alonso

Alonso, Vandoorne’s Azerbaijan GP grid drops grow through Saturday

Leave a comment

Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso’s Formula 1 grid penalties for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix grew through Saturday as the stewards confirmed both McLaren drivers had taken additional power unit parts ahead of qualifying.

Vandoorne and Alonso entered the Baku race weekend anticipating grid penalties after replacing parts on their Honda power units, which have lacked both reliability and performance throughout the season.

Both drivers were handed 15-place drops on Friday ahead of practice due to initial changes, only to receive further drops in the lead up to qualifying.

Alonso currently sits with a 40-place drop to his name after an overhaul of his power unit, while Vandoorne is to drop 35 places after also taking a gearbox change before qualifying.

McLaren ailed to its worst qualifying display of the season so far in Baku as both Alonso and Vandoorne dropped out in Q1, finishing 16th and 19th respectively.

However, Alonso was not too disheartened by the result, saying it has set McLaren up nicely for the race on Sunday.

“We did a good job today in terms of preparing for the race: we only used one set of tires, put in low fuel and did some checks,” the Spaniard said.

“We know we’re not competitive around here, but the race is going to be long and demanding. We’ve seen many mistakes from almost every driver, and we need to avoid making any of those tomorrow.

“In these kinds of grands prix, we need to try and finish the race, get some data for the team, and keep developing the car.

“We need to make sure we keep away from the walls tomorrow. Let’s also hope we can end up in the points.”

Due to a strange quirk in the regulations, Alonso and Vandoorne will not share the back row of the grid in Baku – and the latter will, in fact, gain a place.

As Renault’s Jolyon Palmer failed to post a time during Q1 and therefore did not qualify for the race, he will start P20.

By virtue of having a greater grid drop than Vandoorne, Alonso will take 19th on the grid, with the Belgian starting just ahead in P18.

Alonso, Vandoorne get grid drops in Baku after power unit changes

Getty Images
Leave a comment

McLaren Formula 1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne are set to start this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix from the last row of the grid after the FIA confirmed that both will receive a 15-place drop from their qualifying position.

Alonso and Vandoorne are yet to score a single point through the opening seven races of the season amid ongoing difficulties for engine partner Honda, whose power unit has lacked both performance and reliability so far this season.

Alonso’s struggles continued in practice in Baku on Friday as he was forced to park up at the side of the track during FP2 with an apparent engine issue, adding to McLaren’s ongoing plight.

The Spaniard said in McLaren’s race preview that he expected to take a grid penalty for changing a number of parts on his power unit, with the drop being officially confirmed by the FIA on Friday.

Both Alonso and Vandoorne will take a 15-place grid drop from their final qualifying position on Friday, meaning they are likely to start from the final row of the grid.

The only other driver with a grid penalty in Baku is Carlos Sainz Jr., who will drop three places as punishment for causing a collision at the start of the Canadian Grand Prix two weeks ago.

McLaren wins raft race, loses point, sees Alonso in stands at Canada (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

It’s been a roller coaster 24-plus hours for McLaren Honda, as it seemingly has been for most of this 2017 Formula 1 season.

Fernando Alonso entered the weekend saying McLaren would need to be winning by September for him to continue into 2018, then said “why not?” about an IndyCar bow during Saturday night’s telecast from Texas. Further comments from McLaren Technology Group executive director Zak Brown described the McLaren and Honda relationship at a ‘fork in the road’ and almost at the point of no return.

On track, Alonso lost a bit of time in Friday’s first practice with a hydraulic issue, and he then qualified 12th on Saturday. Stoffel Vandoorne was 16th.

Joy on Saturday evening and more heartbreak on Sunday afternoon followed at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as part of the Canadian Grand Prix weekend.

BRIEF JOY ON SATURDAY IN F1’S MONTREAL ‘RAFT RACE’

For a brief moment on Saturday night though, there was joy in the McLaren Honda world. Formula 1’s new owners Liberty Media have sought to bring back some fun or revived items to the F1 paddock and one of them was the usual mechanics’ “raft race” that takes place in the river basin behind the paddock on the Ile Notre Dame in Montreal.

McLaren Honda for once in 2017 could say they won – and forget for a moment that neither Mercedes nor Ferrari took part. McLaren Honda still beat the rest of the competitors. Here’s a quick video of that and some still shots of the glory.

NEAR POINT COMES UNDONE, AGAIN

Alonso was poised to score his elusive first point of the season, running 10th in the waning stages of the rest. Both Toro Rossos had retired as had Max Verstappen’s Red Bull; meanwhile Alonso was ahead, on track of potential points scorers Haas with both its cars and Jolyon Palmer’s Renault, which are usually in-and-around the minor placings.

Alas, Alonso stopped with just four laps to go and radioed in, once again, “engine.”

It cost Alonso a point and was his third stoppage on track inside the final 10 laps this season, joining Australia and Bahrain. He of course skipped Monaco to race in the Indianapolis 500 – where he also stopped with a Honda engine failure – but in six Grand Prix appearances this year, he has a 12th at the Spanish Grand Prix, four DNFs and one DNS (Russia).

Today, after Alonso retired, rather than wallow in agony (publicly anyway) he headed instead to the grandstands in Montreal to be with the fans. He wanted to throw his gloves from the track, but decided to mingle with the people instead.

“Well, I thought to give the gloves to the guys there! The grandstand was too far. So I won’t get there if I throw them. So I go a bit closer!” Alonso told NBCSN’s Will Buxton.

“Once I was there, I couldn’t go back to the bike! It was fun. We have so much support from the fans in Canada. I felt we needed to give something back.”

Asked whether his going into the stands was aided by his IndyCar odyssey, Alonso responded, “probably.”

He also added of the day itself, “Yeah I guess, for the guys (it hurts). Tenth place won’t change my life. After 16 years it’s 1 point. But they’re working day and night preparing every single day. You want to do the best result for them. So frustrating. Jenson had the power unit change in Monaco so he was starting last. So now we start last in Baku. It’s quite difficult.”

Vandoorne finished 14th. The other high for the weekend for Alonso and McLaren was a garage meeting with Michael Douglas, who was along for a photo of Alonso being presented with a picture of being first at Indianapolis when he first took the lead there on Lap 37, as he’d requested.

Alonso calls into Texas from Canada; says of IndyCar, ‘why not?’ (VIDEO)

1 Comment

Fernando Alonso was the star attraction of the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, despite failing to finish owing to an engine failure in the back of his No. 29 McLaren Honda Andretti entry while running in the top-10.

Alonso was named Sunoco Rookie of the Year for his efforts, although he only finished 24th, and Ed Jones finished third for Dale Coyne Racing.

During tonight’s Rainguard Water Sealers 600 from Texas Motor Speedway, Alonso called into the NBCSN broadcast to speak with the booth of Kevin Lee, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.

Asked by Lee about his future – both Alonso’s and Honda’s futures with McLaren are murky at best at the moment – Alonso didn’t say no when asked if he would consider IndyCar full-time.

“Why not? I’m very open to anything. I don’t have a pure answer right now,” Alonso said.

You can see Canadian Grand Prix coverage from 2 p.m. ET on NBC on Sunday.

Alonso will quit F1 if calendar hit 25 races

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso has said he will quit Formula 1 if the sport’s new owner, Liberty Media, increased the number of races per season to around 25 in the next few years.

Liberty completed its takeover of F1 in January and has confirmed that it is looking to grow the sport’s calendar beyond the 20 races currently on the schedule and push into new markets, with 21 events planned for next year.

Concerns have been raised about the pressure that a 25-race schedule would place on the paddock considering the packed year that teams already have once testing, development and media activities are factored in.

Alonso was quoted in the Spanish media as saying that he would quit F1 in the calendar did hit 25 races, and the McLaren-Honda driver confirmed that he was correctly quoted on Thursday in the FIA press conference ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix.

“I started when the calendar was 16 races, plus the tests, and now we keep on increasing the races year after year and I think we are in a number that is quite demanding already,” Alonso said.

“The life you have, between the preparation, the sponsor events, the tests, the commitments you have plus 20-21 races, I think it is already enough.

“If there are 25 or 26 races or whatever, I think it’s good in one aspect but in other aspects, in how demanding becomes your life, at this point of my career, I consider that a good quality of life is more important than to do more seasons in F1.

“So if the calendar stays between 20-21, so this range that we know from the last couple of years, I’ll be happy to continue.

“If it’s increasing, like NASCAR, where they have 40 or 50 races, it’s not for me. It’s better for other drivers.”

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was also asked about calendar growth, saying: “I haven’t really given it any thought, but I understand what Fernando’s saying and tend to agree with him.”