Qualifying - Mexico GP report: McLaren Honda
McLaren-Honda’s difficult weekend continued today.
Fernando Alonso qualified 16th, but component changes to the ICE and gearbox saddled him with a 15-place grid penalty, relegating him to 19th place on the grid for tomorrow’s Mexican Grand Prix – the country’s first for 23 years.
Jenson Button experienced another challenging day. After yesterday’s high-voltage sensor failure, his car suffered a misfire during FP3, the root cause of which could not be immediately ascertained. As a result, the engineers were not able to ready his car in time for Q1. He will therefore start tomorrow’s race using his existing ICE from FP1, but pre-weekend power unit penalties dictate that he will start from 20th place on the grid.
“We went into qualifying knowing that our penalties would relegate us to the last row of the grid. So there wasn’t much to gain from qualifying this afternoon. It was more about finding out how the car felt; using up tyres and engine mileage for no reason made little sense.
“We need some rain and chaos tomorrow. We have plenty of fresh sets of tyres – both dries and wets – so let’s see what we can do. Hopefully, we can recover some places in the race.”
“We had a misfire on my engine this morning, and we had to change it to make sure everything was okay for tomorrow, which meant I couldn’t qualify.
“Whatever happened in qualifying, I was always going to start last because of my penalties. Still, the racer in me wanted to get out there and do the best I could.
“I’ve done hardly any laps this weekend, and, without any high-fuel running under my belt, the race is going to be difficult for me.
“It’s been a tough weekend – but I’m still looking forward to tomorrow. It’s always fun racing on a new circuit, and it’ll be exciting too, because you never know what might happen.”
“Fernando drove a good lap here this afternoon, carving the 16th-fastest Q1 lap in so doing.
“That may sound like a non sequitur, but, since our car’s performance envelope is ill-suited to a circuit whose main straight is 1.2km [0.75 miles] long, in fact it’s both logical and true.
“Moreover, aware of the power unit penalties he would unavoidably incur, we biased his car’s set-up more towards a race configuration than we usually would. That being the case, we’re pretty pleased with our car’s Sector Two and Sector Three pace.
“Nonetheless, it wasn’t enough to allow him to progress through to Q2, and that’s frustrating for him and indeed for all of us.
“More galling by some margin, this morning Jenson’s engine developed a misfire during FP3, whose causation we were unable immediately to ascertain. We initially suspected it was a signal failure, but as I speak our engineers are still yet to confirm the origin of the issue. Our immediate intention was to refit Jenson’s FP1 engine for qualifying, as a precautionary measure. Unfortunately, however, we weren’t able to resolve the problem in the time available, and Jenson was consequently unable to take part in qualifying and will start tomorrow’s race from P20.
“Finally, adding insult to injury, Fernando will start tomorrow’s race from P19, alongside Jenson in P20, as a result of incurring a power unit penalties. Even so, indomitable battlers that they both are, they’ll be doing their damnedest to make progress from the ‘off’ tomorrow, challenging task though that will indubitably be.”
“Though we had a good feeling of the car and track after FP2 yesterday, today’s FP3 and Qualifying turned out to be more troublesome than expected, especially Jenson’s ICE which had a misfire and could not run for FP3.
“We suspect that this issue was caused by a sensor signal failure, and as per yesterday this meant the car’s electrical system and various control systems required a thorough check. This further analysis meant that Jenson was unable to participate in qualifying.
“Fernando ran solidly in FP3, but unfortunately our prediction that the high-altitude would affect our power output was correct, and he could not join the other cars in Q2.
“Fernando’s race pace runs in FP3 were good, so despite the grid penalties, we hope that with a good strategy the race will run smoothly for both drivers.”