Alonso to start last in Russia after grid penalty

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Fernando Alonso may be celebrating his 250th grand prix this weekend, but the Spaniard will be forced to start from the very back of the field in Russia on Sunday after being hit with another grid penalty.

Issues with the Honda power unit being used by McLaren in 2015 have forced the team into taking a number of new components throughout the season, resulting in an astonishing number of grid penalties.

Alonso has been forced to change more parts on his power unit in Sochi this weekend, giving him a 35-place grid penalty for the race on Sunday.

After qualifying 16th and missing out on a place in Q2, the Spaniard will now drop to the very back of the grid for the start of tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix.

“In terms of power effect, this circuit was always going to be tricky for us,” Alonso said. “Whilst I’d always prefer to start up the front, I’m not really too disappointed with qualifying.

“With the penalties, I was always going to start last, so we tried to minimize the laps we needed to run today, and going out in Q1 means I haven’t put too many miles on the car.

“Let’s see what we can do tomorrow. This race will be important for us as we have some experimental parts we’re testing for next year’s car, and we want to get some information about them.

“I’ll go out to enjoy tomorrow’s race – and I’ll be aiming to recover some positions.”

In the sister McLaren car, Jenson Button enjoyed one of his best Saturdays of the season to finish 13th, leaving the Briton very satisfied.

“This was probably my best qualifying performance of the year,” Button said. “Today, we got into Q2 due to our actual speed, rather than because of the others having any issues.

“I’m encouraged, because it was always going to be a very tricky weekend for us. Nonetheless, the race will be tougher for us than qualifying was because our deployment isn’t as good as other people’s, so we’ll be affected along the long straights here.

“In turn, that will affect our fuel consumption – since we use more fuel because we don’t have as much deployment capability. Still, this is progress.”

The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET on Sunday.