It Doesn't Even Matter That Button Sat Out F1 Mexican Grand Prix Qualifying

Illustration for article titled It Doesnt Even Matter That Button Sat Out F1 Mexican Grand Prix Qualifying

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.


Photo credit: Getty Images

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Declan Hackett

It has gone beyond a joke with these penalties. They made sense with the V10s and V8s, since you were dealing with proven engine designs and it stopped the engine companies ploughing millions into exotic technologies (like when they banned beryllium alloys because Ferrari were looking at their use, and the fact that they’re lethally poisonous) in search of minuscule improvements.

But with a complete change of technology last year, they should have dropped the penalties for the first year and gradually phased them in as the engines were developed. And applied the same rules for any company arriving late, like Honda - so that Honda would suffer no penalties this year, but other teams might have only 10 engines available…

But since when have “common sense” and Formula 1 had anything in common?