McLaren-Honda still have an engine upgrade in the pipeline with 3 engine tokens remaining. They aren’t too keen on introducing the upgrade in Japan because Honda don’t want to incur a penalty at their home race. This leaves Malaysia as the most likely venue.
Yusuke Hasegawa said,
“We introduced a new engine in Spa and at that moment we had nine races so we need to introduce one more engine. If you split the nine races it could be Malaysia or Japan or the USA. We do not want to get a penalty at Japan, so Malaysia makes sense, we are still discussing it with the team.
I don’t think the fans would let me take a penalty in Japan. I would not be allowed to walk into the circuit!
We may introduce it in a different area because once we change the combustion it will cost us so much setting time we do not want to put a lot of resource on it this year.”
– Yusuke Hasegawa
McLaren had a mixed raced in Singapore with Alonso’s maximum drive to 7th and Button retiring from the race with damage sustained from a collision with Bottas on the opening lap of the race. Both World Champions have endured yet another season without significant result despite the promises of the McLaren-Honda partnership.
After the race, Hasegawa added,
“Though bittersweet, I am pleased that it was a good result for Fernando and the team. We were able to show our pace in the race and finish behind the top three teams as best of the rest.”
– Yusuke Hasegawa
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) September 18, 2016
“Best of the rest” isn’t the ambition of McLaren. They want to win races and reclaim their former glory. The proposed engine update in Sepang won’t move the McLaren’s significantly up the grid but might save their blushes this season. If they don’t beat Toro Rosso in the constructors standings, their 2016 season has to go down as a failure.