McLaren unmoved by prospect of Fernando Alonso grid penalty in Brazil

Henry Valantine
Otmar Szafnauer and McLaren team principal Andreas Seild in a press conference. Monaco May 2022

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl is not getting his hopes up about a possible grid penalty coming for Fernando Alonso, insisting his team is focusing on themselves.

McLaren and Alpine are locked in a tight battle for fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship, with Seidl’s team seven points behind their rivals after a Mexico City Grand Prix that saw the Woking-based team get both Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris into the points.

Alonso, meanwhile, suffered a third DNF in five races after a cylinder failed on his power unit during the race while running seventh.

This enabled McLaren to slightly close the gap to Alpine in the team standings, and a potential grid penalty could be coming to Alonso if they are unable to find a fix.

This in turn could open another door for McLaren in their battle for fourth, but the team principal is just wanting to focus on their own issues at this moment in time and control what is in their hands for the final two races.

“To be honest, it doesn’t change anything for us,” Seidl said, quoted by Motorsport-Total. “The battle we are having with Alpine is very close and very tight.

“If you look at the last six races, we were ahead four times, twice they were ahead in qualifying and in the races.

“It goes back and forth depending on the circumstances, and reliability also plays an important role.

“The most important thing is that we just focus on ourselves. We need to make sure we have clean race weekends and use the car, the team and the two drivers, to get points.

“Hopefully that will be enough to be ahead of Alpine in the final round of Abu Dhabi. That’s what we’re focused on.”

Otmar Szafnauer said after the race that he hopes Alpine will be able to fix Alonso’s power unit, which left the Spaniard frustrated with a fifth DNF of the season after having to pull over in Mexico.

The Alpine team principal explained that the team’s approach was to focus on performance over reliability with their 2022 power unit, and is confident of his own chances of winning out over McLaren in the final two races – with millions of dollars’ worth of prize money on the line.

“We didn’t do it on purpose to not be reliable, but if you have to make a mistake, you have to push the performance envelope, because you can’t increase the performance now until 2026, but you can fix reliability issues – and we can do that over the winter,” Szafnauer said.

“So I think strategically it was the right decision. And we still have two races to go to finish fourth. I think we can do that.”

Read more: Is Fernando Alonso right to feel aggrieved about Alpine problems?