McLaren Honda have confirmed, that Fernando Alonso taking Pouhon corner flat-out for the first time in Qualifying confused the energy deployment system which led to a failure, costing the Spaniard a place in Qualifying three.
After receiving a tow along the Kemmel straight from team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, Alonso looked set for a time that would get him through to Q3.
But with no extra deployment of energy from his Honda engine between Turn’s 11 and 12, Alonso exclaimed over the radio, “no power!” and aborted his lap, having lost 0.5s because of the power deficit.
The lack of energy/failure, was a result of the car getting confused about where it was on the circuit, with Honda’s deployment algorithm calculated by throttle inputs.
So when there is a lift of the throttle, for example, the system takes this into account and works out it must have gone through a corner.
When Alonso took Pouhon flat out on his hot-lap – rather than lifting as he had done previously over the weekend – Honda’s system did not realise he had already gone through the corner, and didn’t deploy as expected on the straight between T11 and 12 thinking he was still on the run down to T11.
Yusuke Hasegawa – Honda’s F1 engine chief – has confirmed that the issue was related to the control system and it getting mixed up of where the car was on the track.
“We set a segment to when we have the deployment, and normally that segment is divided by the throttle,” he said when asked by Motorsport.com.
“Sometimes a driver is making a different operation, so that makes the system confused and we didn’t have deployment at some certain area.”
Hasegawa later said that Honda would likely need to change its procedures to ensure there is no repeat incident.
Meanwhile, Alonso claims that if the issue had not hampered his McLaren, he could have been quickest and made it through to Q3.
“We would have liked to be there but in general it was a very positive day,” said Alonso.
“In Q2 until the final attempt we were 1.5 seconds off on a track where we know how much we are losing with the engine, so we would easily be in first and second positions.
“The battery didn’t work and I lost six tenths from Turn 11 to 12. I was two tenths quicker than on the previous lap so I would have improved one or two more in the final sector, so we would have been in Q3 without any problems.
“In the end, starting 11th with new tyres maybe gives us an extra opportunity so we’ll try to take advantage tomorrow.”
Alonso also benefited at the start of the lap, courtesy of a tow from team-mate Vandoorne, who had received a 65-place grid penalty and will start from last no matter what for changing engine components.
Alonso said he will return the favour to Vandoorne next weekend at the Italian Grand Prix.
“We had it planned. Next week it will be the other way around because it’s my turn,” he stated.
“We were trying to take advantage of the penalties. We have to find a positive and try to do the best for the team.”
The Belgian Grand Prix is scheduled to start at 2200 AEST.