Fernando Alonso’s Belgian Grand Prix weekend was typical of the way 2017 has gone for him, but with a few bizarre twists thrown in for good measure.
In qualifying he missed out on getting through to Q3 because he was literally too good, and then he claimed that if the Honda engine wasn’t so bad that McLaren would have easily been first and second on the grid.
The race then followed the format many of his races this season have done. He made an awesome start and ran seventh at the end of lap one, but was powerless to defend from faster cars as he slipped further down the order. On the way there were plenty of amusing team radio messages, calling the lack of power “embarrassing, just embarrassing,” telling his engineer the race was “just a test”, and saying that being passed by other cars “doesn’t change my life”.
Eventually Fernando’s race came to an end on lap 26 with what appeared to be yet another engine failure. However according to Honda, there was nothing actually wrong with the engine. Honda’s F1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa said:
“After starting brilliantly, Fernando then had a tough race overall. He radioed in with what he thought was a problem with the car, and although there was nothing showing in the data, we decided to stop the car as a precaution.”
Shortly before he retired Alonso asked the team if there was any rain expected during the race. When they said there was no chance of rain (and therefore, in Fernando’s eyes, no chance of a good result) his car suddenly developed an engine problem. Suspicious much?
There have been murmurings that Fernando has retired a healthy car on purpose on some occasions this year in order to make a point about how dissatisfied he is with Honda, as if it wasn’t already plain enough for everyone to see. In fact, Alonso said himself earlier this year that’d he’d retire on the last lap if he wasn’t in the points.
This seems like the most obvious example yet of there being any truth behind it, especially as it’s coming down to the crunch in terms of contracts and whether or not McLaren is going to stick with Honda power units in 2018. Fernando himself stuck to his story of having a problem though, saying after the race:
“The car was too slow on the straights and it was impossible to have any battles out there, so points were also impossible today. Eventually, we had to stop due to an engine issue.”
What do you reckon? Did Alonso retire on purpose or was there genuinely a problem with his car which Honda can’t seem to find? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!