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|Belgian Grand Prix on the BBC|
|Date: 25-27 August Venue: Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps|
|Coverage: Practice sessions and qualifying on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra (BBC Sport website only). Race live on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra. Live text commentary, leaderboard and imagery on BBC Sport website and app.|
McLaren’ Fernando Alonso has no confidence in Honda’s ability to produce a competitive engine in 2018, the Japanese company’s F1 boss says.
Yusuke Hasegawa said it was his job “to convince” the double world champion of Honda’s credentials before he made a decision on his future.
Alonso is out of contract at the end of the season and says he will make a decision on his future in September.
Hasegawa said Honda planned a series of updates over the next few races.
The first of these is being introduced at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix and has led to a grid penalty for Alonso’s team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.
The Belgian has a new power-unit that has led to a nominal 35-place penalty and means he will start from the back of the grid.
Vandoorne is using what Honda calls its ‘Phase 3.6’ engine in Belgium, which features a change to the induction design.
Alonso also has an upgrade – to the so-called ‘Phase 3.5’ engine – but Honda is allowed to do this without penalty because the parts that needed changing on his engine did not fall under those on which changes are restricted.
Hasegawa said the improvements for this race over the specification of engine Alonso used in the last race in Hungary were worth about 0.1secs.
Alonso said he was expecting “very difficult races” in Belgium this weekend and Italy next because they are the two circuits on the calendar where lap time is most dependent on engine performance.
The 36-year-old Spaniard said on the pre-Belgian Grand Prix media day on Thursday that he had “not been told much (about the Honda upgrade) and I’m not expecting much”.
McLaren are in the process of deciding whether to drop their works contract with Honda at the end of this year, after three difficult seasons plagued by poor reliability and performance, and switch to a customer supply from Renault.
A month ago, a move to the French company seemed the favoured option and it remains a possibility, but the chances of staying with Honda have increased over F1’s summer break in August.
Mercedes and Ferrari have already turned McLaren down and Renault are also said to be reluctant to provide them engines because the competitiveness of the British team’s car means it is quite likely they would beat the factory Renault team and possibly even lead customer Red Bull.
Alonso was asked whether he felt McLaren had a difficult decision to make over its engine supply in 2018. He replied: “I don’t think there is any tough choice.”
Alonso has said his “priority” is to stay in F1 but has also said he wants a competitive car so he can return to winning races.
Hasegawa said he hoped to persuade Alonso over the remainder of this season that Honda could provide that in 2018.
He said Honda were pushing flat out and would be introducing developments whenever they came on stream over the remainder of the season.
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