FORMER world champion Fernando Alonso is set to start Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix at the back of the grid after McLaren decided to take a strategic penalty.
Alonso could be demoted up to 20 places, while team-mate Jenson Button may also be penalised as engine suppliers Honda are set to exceed their permitted number of alterations.
McLaren have taken just four points from seven races in a season beset by reliability problems. Team bosses hope that triggering the penalty at a circuit not expected to suit their car anyway will reap rewards later in the year.
Alonso, a two-time drivers’ title winner, is yet to win a point in 2015 and has retired from the last three races but his car will benefit this weekend from a shorter, more aerodynamic nose.
“This weekend will be tough,” said the Spaniard. “The results will not look good, especially as there are some penalties to pay. There are updates on the car so hopefully we will go out of the weekend with some answers. I am optimistic about what is coming but in terms of results it will not change much this weekend; it will probably be worse.”