McLaren’s Belgian GP grid penalty total rises to 105 places

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McLaren’s cumulative total of grid penalties for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix has risen to 105 places after the team made further changes to the power units on its cars.

The British team has struggled since switching to Honda power units for the 2015 season, experiencing a number of issues with the components supplied by the Japanese manufacturer.

Since exceeding the season limit of five power units earlier in the season, McLaren has since racked up a sizeable grid penalty for every additional change that has been made.

On Friday, the FIA stewards confirmed that Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button had received a combined grid drop of 55 places after new components were fitted to their cars.

McLaren has now opted to take another new set of components for both cars, prompting the stewards to hand the teams a further 50 places worth of grid penalties, taking the team’s total to 105.

As per a stewards’ statement, “an 8th Internal Combustion Engine, 8th Turbo Charger, 8th MGU-H, and 7th MGU-K have been used” on Alonso’s car, whilst “a 9th Turbo Charger, 9th MGU-H, 8th Internal Combustion Engine, and 8th MGU-K have been used” on Button’s.

The end result? Alonso enters tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix with a 55-place grid penalty; Button has 50.

Naturally, neither driver will be able to serve the entirety of their penalties. Button qualified 17th on Saturday ahead of Alonso in P18. They will start 19th and 20th respectively due to their sanctions – not 67th and 73rd as I snarkily suggested on Twitter.

Neither driver will have to serve any kind of in-race penalty either after the additional sanctions were scrapped by the FIA last month, meaning that the actual damage of the changes is four grid positions.

The Belgian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET on Sunday.

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.