Honda boss Yusuke Hasegawa has revealed attempts to clear an MGU-H issue resulted in Fernando Alonso stopping on track before the start of the Russian Grand Prix.
Alonso had complained about a power unit problem at the start of the formation lap and didn’t manage to make it to the grid for the start of the race, coming to a stop at the pit entry. Hasegawa told RACER the actual stoppage was the result of attempts to resolve the problem, with the power unit having to be shut down before trying to restart it.
“As soon as he was going on the parade lap we noticed a system failure with the ERS – the MGU-H wasn’t working,” Hasegawa said. “We tried the procedure to clear the failure but it wasn’t a success, so then we tried a power cycle, a complete reset, but it made the car stop.
“It was an option [to come back to the pits] but it wasn’t the same failure with what happened with Stoffel [Vandoorne] in Australia. He succeeded with a power cycle and restart in Melbourne so that’s why we tried it, because we didn’t want to start the race from the pit lane. But as a consequence it wasn’t a good option.
“I’m not sure [if we’ve seen it before], still we need to investigate it, but anyway it was a system failure.”
While Alonso didn’t race, Vandoorne at least got a full race distance under his belt after having failed to start the Bahrain Grand Prix, and Hasegawa was pleased the Belgian gained further track time after suffering from a host of reliability issues and taking a grid penalty in Sochi.
“It was positive. Especially for a young driver he needs more experience of long running, but obviously the car was not strong enough to get a point, which is very unfortunate,” he said.
“The data will help, definitely. Running without problems on his car was one of the very positive things.”
While Hasegawa sought a positive, Alonso was understandably frustrated by his lack of running on Sunday as he still seeks his first finish of the season.
“It’s tough, it’s frustrating – every weekend is the same,” Alonso said. “My power unit didn’t have the usual power during the formation lap, so my engineer told me to change some settings on the steering wheel. Unfortunately, that didn’t work and towards the end of the lap the engine shut down. My race was over before it started.
“Not being able to take part in the race and not being able to finish any race so far this season is extremely tough. But Formula 1 is my life, so hopefully we can improve the situation soon.”