Tactical approach to grid penalties boosts McLaren chances


McLaren's Eric Boullier believes the team's strategy of piling on the grid penalties to ensure itself a favorable end-of-season run paid off in Brazil.

With both Interlagos and Abu Dhabi identified as venues better suited to the McLaren-Honda package, the Woking-based outfit optimized its engine pool by taking penalties at the preceding races.

Fernando Alonso changed power units between Friday and Saturday, but without enduring a grid drop. He qualified P6 and ran consistently in the top ten on Sunday, ultimately finishing seventh.

"We obviously took a lot of energy penalties before to try to protect Brazil and Abu Dhabi," Boullier told Autosport.

"We used a lot of engines before just to make sure we had fresh parts. You have to try something, and we decided to protect some mileage.

"In Mexico we were more competitive than expected, and [in Brazil] we had a good race as well. It was good to have a trouble-free weekend."

Boullier also underlined Alonso's engine management skills which greatly contributed to his race results in Brazil.

"He managed very well the way he was using the energy of the car, cutting off in the unnecessary part of the track, and using more in the straightline," he said.

"He tried to manage it himself a lot, and did a very good job. The plan was to stay in the DRS [range] of Massa to protect ourselves, this was the only way.

"He was able to [fight] a little bit, and hopefully next year he will be able to do it at every race."

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