Formula One: Alonso hit with grid penalties after McLaren-Honda upgrade

Spanish F1 driver Fernando Alonso will start his 250th Grand Prix from the back of the grid after taking a 25-place penalty.
Spanish F1 driver Fernando Alonso will start his 250th Grand Prix from the back of the grid after taking a 25-place penalty.PHOTO: AFP

SOCHI (Russia) - Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso will start his 250th Grand Prix from the back of the grid in Russia on Sunday after taking a 25-place penalty following the McLaren-Honda team's decision to introduce an updated engine.

The Spaniard, who on Thursday confirmed that he intends to remain 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 Russian Grand Prix.

His McLaren team-mate Briton Jenson Button last week confirmed that he will stay at McLaren next year, ending talk that he was set to retire from Formula One.

Button will not have the same updates from Honda on his car, but is expected to have them at the United States Grand Prix and said he was optimistic about the future for the team.

"There are a lot of good things to come over the winter, and you can definitely make good strides then," said Button. "Look at Ferrari - they are said to have found 100bhp (brake horsepower) last winter and to have achieved better deployment.

"And look at them this season... I have no idea whether we can win a race next year. 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.

"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.