Poor Jenson Button. He already accrued a fifty-place grid penalty for doing two engine swaps in his McLaren Honda Formula One car over the course of the Mexican Grand Prix weekend. Now one of them has an issue they couldn’t diagnose before qualifying. Not that it matters. He’s starting from the back anyway.
McLaren opted to do two engine swaps ahead of the race. Honda is switching over to its “phase four” power unit system. Eurosport reports that after finding no serious faults when teammate Fernando Alonso ran the phase four kit, they planned to swap out the engine, turbocharger and hybrid system components (MGU-H and MGU-K) on Button’s car ahead of the initial practice sessions. This brought abotu a 25-place penalty, already sending Button to the back.
Then the McLaren team was going to switch all of those same components again ahead of Free Practice 2 to test out a second phase four power unit and maximize the number of components they knew they could use through the end of the year. This brought about an additional 25-place grid penalty, but does it even matter anymore once you’ve got that many penalties to begin with?
Alas, they found a problem in that second power unit, which they’ve opted to work on instead of participate in qualifying. Initially, they thought it was just a signal failure, but now Button confirmed to Sky Sports that there was also a misfire in the unit he ran from FP2 onwards.
Not that it matters. Not that any of it matters. Fifty-place grid penalties have a way of making qualifying irrelevant.
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