Alonso, Dennis, Honda’s GP2 engine

Fernando Alonso was a little frustrated Sunday at the Japanese Grand Prix. Fernando compared his McLaren Honda ( most specifically the Honda part of hat combination) to a GP2 engine:

“I am getting passed down the straight like a GP2,” said Alonso after losing positions. “This is embarrassing, very embarrassing.”

Now that most likely didn’t go down well with the Honda executives at the race, this being their home grand prix, and I can’t blame them but while the world may be apt to heap scorn on Alonso, I tend to sympathize with his year-long frustration. Sure, you can say he has only himself to blame for leaving Ferrari but that being the case, he also didn’t plan on Honda missing the mark so radically as to field what seems to be a GP2 engine.

You can blame his career choice but you can’t deny that McLaren is in major trouble with the Honda power unit. If you’ve had any concern over the McLaren Honda season, then marginalizing it in favor of scolding Alonso is missing the point.

No one likes to have their product knocked and especially at their home grand prix but I feel like it can’t hurt for Honda to listen to the frustration and stop waffling on about corporate culture differences and make a damn good engine. Stop bragging about your next upgrade that will bring the lump on par with the Ferrari and start actually getting on par with Ferrari.

For Ron Dennis, who’s cars are inexplicably void of sponsor logos and who has no other engine alternative, this Alonso incident didn’t go down well:

“I am not going to condone those sorts of things, because it doesn’t show the professionalism that I would like all our drivers to show,” explained Dennis.

“But he is in the car, he is frustrated and of course he has exposure to the technical staff.

“Maybe it was not a particularly constructive way to communicate with everyone at Honda, but the way for me to deal with drivers is either through their appropriate management channels, which is Eric [Boullier] or in certain circumstances myself.

“Whatever I choose to do, or however it is done, it remains a team matter, not a matter for the media.”

I’ll be honest, this entire engine issue is really pissing me off! There are two engine makers with lumps that are reliable. Mercedes is one, and clearly dominant, with Ferrari the other. Renault is no longer supplying engines as it tries to determine if it will save Lotus or not and no one wants the Honda except McLaren and I’m starting to wonder about that.

Red Bull have no option for a Merc and now it seems that Ferrari may not be keen to give them a current spec engine favoring the 4-time champions to run a year-old spec. Like that’s a good thing for Red Bull?

McLaren have no other options but the Honda as they parted ways with Mercedes when the team bought Brawn GP. They wouldn’t run a Ferrari, one presumes, due to the fierce rivalry there.

This new engine format has created a real quagmire of outlandish expense, bankrupted teams and limited options for privateers. The two teams who have the resources to make a competitive engine don’t want to supply those current spec units to other teams that could threaten them

It seems to me this might be an area the FIA could actually remedy. The engine format needs to change and change quickly. I know the tech is awesome, I really do, but the fact is the sport can’t afford it and the teams that can hoard it. The series needs to come up or revert to a spec or regulatory format that allows for economical engines and engine suppliers to enter the sport.

I’m not sure if FIA president, Jean Todt, wants to move away from this hybrid engine for one or a host of reasons. I can imagine Mercedes and Ferrari don’t want to given their heavy investment and performance advantage but if Todt is future-thinking, he may very well make a change to improve F1’s future viability for both constructors and privateers. I think it is more than just continually talking about a cost cap if I’m honest.

Nothing against he current power unit but it just isn’t sustainable and that’s, perhaps, the irony as it was crammed down the sport’s throat over sustainability.

Hat Tip: Mr. Noble at Motorsport

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Again, It’s not the engines per se. It’s the draconian engine rules that have bludgeoned these teams. Also, the expense of the engine can be mitigated by fair monetary payouts to all teams and regulations of engine costs. I believe the choice to move to the new spec engine was correct but the execution was so horribly handled that it us making life hard for everybody except Mercedes. Also does nobody finds it unfair that Mercedes essentially had a huge advantage from Brawn? They had over a year extra to develop their engine with somebody essentially on the inside developing… Read more »

Negative Camber

Great points and I do want to offer my amendment based on your correct insight. My issue isn’t with hybrid engines so much. Of course the outlandish cost of them is untenable for F1, if I’m honest, but even if it were affordable over time…say, 2020, I still think the freeze is something that has baked in domination and an inability to seek parity amongst engine makers. The freeze may have worked in the V8 era due to the evolution and age of the regulations but not this new one.


Rumours are that at the last meeting of the Strategic Council a cost cap for the engines is agreed at $ 12 million from next year on and that allows for an engine unfreeze, so customer teams don’t have to pay for the in-season upgrades. At least if Mercedes agrees, because they were against it until recemtly. But they seem to be willing now as I hear.

Negative Camber

I said it earlier this year that it would be good if they allow manufacturers to develop the engines but they must provide current spec to teams at a capped cost. That’s not a big money maker for them but it does allow them to develop for their race up front.

Johnpierre Rivera

totally agree and this is the real crux of the problem….


Did Honda not have time to construct something better? Yes, teams were already running the engines, but they had at least one full season of development time and ultimately failed. Punishing Merc for having a jump would creat a double standard of sorts if not all teams who had similar advantage did not receive the same treatment. That said, I’m fully open to unlocked regulations or a freeze like you said, just because something needs to be done.


I like your suggestions, but I disagree that “it’s not the engines per se”. These hybrid power units were foisted on the sport by a couple of manufacturers. 1) Mercedes, who had been working the back door developing their power unit for years knowing that they had the gravitas to lead the sport by the nose wherever they wanted, and 2) Renault, led by the in-again out-again Ghosn, who was dense enough to allow himself be a useful idiot for Mercedes and pressure the rest into going along with their ill concieved scheme. The fact is the hybrid power units… Read more »

Johnpierre Rivera

This might be a little off point but, Did not Ayrton Senna famously say to the Honda engineers after the summer break “What have you guys been doing all summer?” implying that the engine had not advanced or what just plain too slow? Why does Ayrton get a pass and Alonso does not. Did not Vettel last year over the radio criticize RedBull and Renault in Austria when his engine let go for the umpteenth time.. So what Alonso made a comparison to a GP2 engine. He called it like it is. Do get down on Alonso, it is Honda… Read more »

Will Irwin

Senna was pre-internet: then there were not a million ‘experts’ able to pronounce on the wisdom or otherwise of his every utterance.

Johnpierre Rivera

that’s a good point, but it does not address wihy the fans are so quick to prosecutor, judge and jury…


I would bet that the “fans” persecuting Alonso are fans that are newer to the sport. May are probably feeling as Todd, Negative Camber, voiced in the article that this whole format nonsense needs to change.

Johnpierre Rivera

Possibly in this case, but of late this just seems to be a over-all trend that I fell is happening. And it is not directed just at drivers. the year that Pirelli delivered fast degrading tires per the FIA’s request, wow the fans went through the roof. The things that were said about the Italian tire company were beyond the constructive criticism. Down right nasty. Funny now there are plenty of fans (the same one presumably) that think the tires are too hard across the range and too conservative.

Fred Talmadge

I tried to follow my favourite drivers on social media but all I got was some media consultant promoting sponsors. Boring. Alonso just expressed what we all know anyway.

Johnpierre Rivera

agreed that is my point, even thought NC post is more about the how F1 has gotten itself into this engine mess…..

Van Dieu

McLaren have been in decline for a long time, and have not even looked remotely close to winning a race since Hamilton smelt the (other) silver coloured coffee. They have shown consistently poor judgement in just about all matters F1, so I’m not quite why why it’s such a shock that they have shown poor judgement on their engine partner. Poor Ron is now a parody of himself – he can’t even do the most basic tasks these days and get a team sponsor, how do you expect him to organise them into a title-challenging outfit. Alonso is frustrated and… Read more »

Richard Durishin

I hope that both Jenson and Fernando leave Ron Dennis high, dry and sponsorless at the end of 2015.

Louis Jansen

I wish it sounded like a GP2 engine.

Johnpierre Rivera



Second that. GP2 sounds much more robust than Formula H(ybrid)!

E Ram

Redbull want the same software that Ferrari use that runs the engine. It’s not the fact that they think they will be offered a year old spec engine, its the software that runs it. Makes a huge difference in performance. XHorny spoke about it on SkyF1 over the weekend.

Negative Camber

From what I hear, the devil is in the software and how Merc or Ferrari run their engine. I would imagine that RBR want same setup as Ferrari and not a older version. I can understand that because they want to be able to beat anyone with their given chassis. It’s just tough when the two remaining competitive engine suppliers don’t want to supply the rest of the field with equal tech. If that’s the case. At this point I’d rather see open engine development and suppliers with a BoP program like they use in WEC. At least we’d have… Read more »

The Captain

“At this point I’d rather see open engine development and suppliers with a BoP program like they use in WEC” It;s amazing how WEC can get this so right while F1 can’t. The engines in WEC are different but mostly on par and have such unique characteristics form each other that it’s part of the fun to watch.

Negative Camber

I know and have interviewed enough sports car drivers to know that BoP is never perfect but it darn close all things considered if you watch WEC. Seems to me if the FIA can handle that, they can handle something that would solve the current F1 situation.

Johnpierre Rivera

now to address NC’s real point of this post. It is irony at its best and a first rate example of the series trying to do the right thing as far a sustainability and the knock-off effect is that it is making the racing very difficult for the majority of the smaller teams. Right now the two most powerful engines are the Merc and Ferrari’s and can you blame them for not wanting to give them out to a fierce competitor like RedBull. I think the real issue in addiction to the one’s NC has outlined is also that there… Read more »

Paul KieferJr

isn’t there something about the “Law of Unintended Consequences”?

Johnpierre Rivera

So true. So very true…

peter riva

Here’s a question: Is all this leading us to a single engine supplier the same way all the computers are single-supplier and the tires are a single supplier….