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Honda gives McLaren boost with ‘Spec 3’ power unit upgrade for Austria

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McLaren has been given a boost ahead of this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix after Honda confirmed it would be bringing its updated ‘Spec 3’ Formula 1 power unit to the race following a successful test in Baku.

McLaren has struggled for form throughout the 2017 season, scoring its first points of the year at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix two weeks ago thanks to a race of attrition.

A lack of performance and reliability from the Honda power unit has been the root of McLaren’s struggles, causing the relationship between the two marques to near breaking point.

Honda had planned to debut its updated power unit last month in Canada, but could only complete an initial test in Baku with Fernando Alonso during Friday practice.

After a successful test, Honda confirmed on Monday that it would be giving both Alonso and teammate Stoffel Vandoorne the ‘Spec 3’ power unit for the Austria weekend, acting as a boost to McLaren’s chances.

“At the previous round in Azerbaijan, we were able to bank our first points of the year and I think it brought some brightness into our team,” Honda’s head of F1 Yusuke Hasegawa said.

“We also tested the updated PU, the Spec 3, with Fernando on Friday and we were able to confirm some progress in terms of the power output.

“We have proceeded with the mapping back at the factory utilizing the data we collected, and we are going to bring the Spec 3 for both drivers this weekend.

“I think we have some improvements in our competitiveness and I am looking forward to seeing our performance in Austria.”

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier is hopeful that the Spec 3 upgrade can help the team to keep up the momentum gained in recent weeks, starting at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday.

“After the excitement and incident of Azerbaijan, I hope that Austria will once again deliver a thrilling race for Formula 1,” Boullier said.

“The circuit itself seems to produce good, close racing, and its configuration should certainly suit our car better than the high speeds and long straights of both Montreal, Baku and the forthcoming race at Silverstone.

“In fact, we had one of our strongest showings in Austria last year, when Jenson was third in a rain-affected qualifying session, and went on to finish a very competitive sixth.

“There’s been no let-up in our development push all season, and, while the result in Azerbaijan was nothing to truly celebrate, it was a sign that we are working well and able to capitalize whenever an opportunity presents itself.

“With a number of improvements planned for the Austrian weekend, not least the proposed new Spec 3 power unit upgrade from Honda, I’m hopeful that we’ll be in a position to get amid the other midfield runners and take a useful step forwards.”

Reviewing Danica Patrick’s highs and lows at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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So much of Danica Patrick’s fame can be traced to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It’s where she became a household name 13 years ago when she became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and emerged as a transcendent athlete.

It’s where everything started. This Sunday, it’s where everything will end, too.

In her last warmup before starting the final race of her career, Patrick had a bumpy final practice Friday on Carb Day. She was eighth fastest, but her Dallara-Chevrolet was in the garage most of the session because of an electrical problem in the engine. After returning during the final 10 minutes of the session, Patrick’s No. 13 seemed to be OK.

“At the end of the day, these are things you’re actually glad for, because if this had happened Sunday, we would have been done,” she said. “I’m glad to get the issues out of the way early on. Overall, today felt good. We made some changes when I went out the second time, and I’m feeling good about starting seventh on Sunday.”
Though she has had her share of success – along with a fourth in her debut, there was a third in 2009 and six top 10s in seven starts — Patrick has learned well how to handle frustration at the 2.5-mile track, too.

Fuel mileage might have kept her from winning her debut, a pit collision ruined 2008, and an unstable setup made 2010 a wild ride.

For a review of her up-and-down history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and her legacy in racing, watch the video essay above that ran during Friday’s NASCAR America Motorsports Special on NBCSN.