Alonso to start last in Belgium after further penalty

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Fernando Alonso will start Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix from last place on the grid after receiving a further penalty overnight for another power unit change.

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso was hit with a 35-place grid drop for taking a new power unit on Friday, mirroring a move made by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

The Spaniard was unable to set a time in qualifying after an issue on his car forced him to stop on his out lap, prompting McLaren to change more components ahead of the race, resulting in another penalty.

Alonso’s total grid drop now amounts to 60 places, meaning he starts the race behind Hamilton who has a 55-place drop. Naturally, neither can serve their penalty in full, but they will start P21 and P22.

“Obviously it’s painful when you have reliability problems such as these, but at the end of the day it’s part of our learning process,” Alonso said after qualifying.

“We know what we have to do: we have to understand what’s still too fragile in the PU, reinforce those parts, and make sure that next year we have a PU that’s powerful and strong enough to be capable of fighting at the front.”

Alonso took to Instagram to make fun of the penalties, flipping the grid so that he and Hamilton would be on the front row.

Pole-sitter Nico Rosberg wasn’t having any of it though.

The Belgian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am 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.