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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.”

Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

Extreme E drivers Andretti
Extreme E
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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”