Alonso to race with updated Honda F1 power unit in Japan

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Fernando Alonso will race with an updated Honda power unit in this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix as McLaren looks to impress at its partner’s home race.

Alonso took a 45-place grid penalty last time out in Malaysia so that McLaren could update the power unit on his car and move to prevent further penalties in 2016.

The new power unit did not offer McLaren any extra performance or power, but instead focused on improving its reliability.

Alonso confirmed on Thursday that he would be using the updated power unit throughout the upcoming race weekend at Suzuka, but stressed it would not offer the team any increase in pace.

“It’s just an engine that we fitted in Malaysia just for reliability issues more than performance,” Alonso said.

“Also, we didn’t have engines to finish the season, so we chose Malaysia to fit new engines, to pay the penalty and then have the rest of the races without any more concerns.

“We plan to use that engine here but, as I said, the engine has exactly the same power, so we will fit the engine and we will try to do our best.”

Alonso also spoke about the improvement in performance that McLaren and Honda has enjoyed over the past year, with the Japanese Grand Prix marking 12 months since his infamous “GP2 engine” radio outburst.

“I think let’s say we are happy with the progress we made this year and definitely we are able to fight with some competitive teams there, like Force India, Williams, and now we finished now like four times seventh after the top three teams in the last five races,” Alonso said.

“Definitely a step forward that we are enjoying, this process of starting to be competitive but I think looking for next year I don’t think we can see anything that is clearly positive or negative.

“I think the biggest step has been done, from last year to this year, but we need another big step next year, which is going from the last Q3 spot and some points to fight for podiums and wins.

“I think it’s still possible. We have the potential, we have the facilities, we have the talented people. This project, as we have said many times, it’s a question of time that we will be able to win.”