ON THE BACK FOOT: McLaren Honda driver Fernando Alonso will start his 250th GP from the back of the grid at the Russian GP after an engine upgrade to his car. AFP/ Alexander Nemenov
Sochi, Russia - Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso will start his 250th Grand Prix from the back of the grid in Russia on Sunday (October 11) after taking a 25-place penalty following the McLaren-Honda team's decision to introduce an updated engine.
The Spaniard, who on Thursday (October 8) confirmed he intends toremain with the struggling outfit and see out his contract to 2017, has already used nine engines this year and will be on his 10th in this weekend's (October 10-11) Russian Grand Prix.
Alonso won't be retiring
His McLaren team-mate Briton Jenson Button last week confirmed he will stay at McLaren until the end of 2016, ending rumours that he was set to retire from F1.
Button will not have the same updates from Honda on his car, but is expected to have them at the United States GP and said he was optimistic about the future for the team.
Button said: "There are a lot of good things to come over the winter, and you can definitely make good strides then.
"Look at Ferrari - they are said to have found 75kW last winter (2015) and to have achieved better deployment.
The Briton said: "And look at them this season.... I have no idea whether we can win a race next year.
"Technical package is still young"
"It would be a big step forward if we could, but you have to remember that our technical package is still very young. The power is actually very strong for a manufacturer in their first year.
Button added: "And the car's aerodynamic philosophy was brand new to us at the beginning of the year so there might be massive gains to be made for 2016. We might win the first race! That's unlikely, but we can make a big step."
Spaniard Roberto Merhi of Marussia has also taken a 20-places grid penalty after an engine change.