Motorsport Debrief: 'Parkgate' exposes Alonso and Honda tensions

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Here is today’s news blast to get you up-to-date on what’s been making the motorsport headlines over the past 24 hours.

Hi, this is Motorsport.com’s Global Editor-in-Chief Charles Bradley and I hope you’re feeling fine. Let’s take a high-speed look around the F1 world.

Honda: Alonso’s Spa engine ready to be used again

Fernando Alonso’s Belgian GP Formula 1 engine is ready for use again after Honda completed its checks following his retirement, despite him parking it at Spa.

Alonso pulled out last weekend, reporting an “engine problem” on the radio, but Honda said after the race it found nothing in the data to suggest there was an issue.

Motorsport.com has learned the power unit was taken back to Milton Keynes for analysis but Honda could not find anything wrong and as a result have put it back in the pool of ‘usable’ engines.

 Fernando Alonso, McLaren, speaks to the media

Fernando Alonso, McLaren, speaks to the media

Photo by: Steven Tee / LAT Images

Alonso “surprised” by claims he parked healthy car

Alonso says he is surprised by accusations that he gave up and parked a healthy car at the Belgian GP.

Conspiracy theories surfaced after the Spa event about the real reason for Alonso retiring from the race, with Honda having been clear that nothing was wrong.

But in Monza, he said: “I read that, and I am surprised when I read that. It seems that people forgot I am racing here, three years, fighting for Q1s, giving my maximum at the start, pushing the car in Hungary in Q1 uphill just to get another run in Q2, and trying to race with a broken rib in Bahrain.

“When I read that, I think people are not very concentrated on the real things that happen in Spa. There was much more action in front of me than behind.”

Ross Brawn, Formula One Managing Director of Motorsports

Ross Brawn, Formula One Managing Director of Motorsports

Photo by: Sutton Images

Brawn pushing to lose F1 grid penalties

Ross Brawn say Formula 1 chiefs are pushing for an end to grid penalties in grand prix racing, saying the system has got out of control and is a turn-off for fans.

“I hate the fact that we’re having to affect the racing because of the technical issues,” he told Motorsport.com. “I know you can say if a car breaks down in a race that’s a technical issue and you’ve affected the race, but I think the fans understand that.

“For a fan to stomach that his hero is on the back of the grid because he had to change the engine, that’s not great sport. We’ve got to find a solution to that, either through a different form of penalty or to remove the penalty altogether and just live with the problem that it was trying to fix.”

 Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, takes a picture for a fan

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, takes a picture for a fan

Photo by: Charles Coates / LAT Images

Hamilton: No doubts about new Mercedes contract

Lewis Hamilton says he plans to extend his Mercedes F1 contract beyond 2018, but the triple world champion is in no rush to finalise a deal with team boss Toto Wolff.

“I’m made aware of who contacts the team, and that’s down to a great relationship that I have with Toto,” Hamilton said ahead of the Italian GP.

“So he’s very open with me about who calls. It’s kind of interesting sometimes to hear who calls, and who’s tried either to take my seat, or take the seat next door to me.”

 Esteban Ocon, Force India, Sergio Perez, Force India, take to the circuit on bicycles

Esteban Ocon, Force India, Sergio Perez, Force India, take to the circuit on bicycles

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / LAT Images

Ocon, Perez admit they let Force India down

Force India duo Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon have admitted to letting their team down with their on-track clashes, as they promised their bosses there will be no repeat incidents in the future.

The duo’s collision in the Belgian GP has prompted Force India to impose team orders on the pair to stop them battling each other in the future, with further threats hanging over them if they clash again.

Perez and Ocon cleared the air at Monza on Thursday with private talks at the Force India motorhome and then further discussions during a cycle ride of the track.

Carlos Sainz Jr., Scuderia Toro Rosso walks the track

Carlos Sainz Jr., Scuderia Toro Rosso walks the track

Photo by: Sutton Images

Drivers risk looking like “idiots” with Monza slipstreaming – Sainz

Carlos Sainz thinks there is too much risk of drivers looking like an “idiot” for teams to try out slipstreaming tactics at the Italian Grand Prix this weekend.

The combination of long straights, plus the high drag from Formula 1’s 2017 cars, means there could be big gains to be made if teammates can help each other with a tow in qualifying.

He said of McLaren doing it at Spa last weekend: “I think McLaren was a very special situation, because one of the drivers was taking a massive penalty, and he was anyway going to start last. So they really went for it because it made sense.

“For others, you can either be a hero or an idiot if you don’t do it properly. So it is something very, very tricky to put together.”

Essential viewing

Under the skin of Ferrari’s latest updates…

That’s it for today’s Motorsport Debrief, we’ll be back again tomorrow.

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