Fernando Alonso says he is disappointed to be starting his landmark 250th grand prix in Russia from the back of the grid after landing penalties for a Honda engine change, even if he says he is determined to enjoy himself regardless.
With Honda using up the remainder of its engine development tokens on introducing an update for the Spaniard to run during free practice for the Russian Grand Prix, Alonso was already set for a 25 place grid penalty.
However, with McLaren changing back to the current specification – with a view to running the updated engine at another race -, a further penalty has been accrued, bringing his total up to 35 positions.
It comes as Alonso prepares to celebrate a quarter century of F1 starts in Sochi, 14 years after making his debut at the Australian Grand Prix with Minardi.
In those 250 races, Alonso has accumulated 32 wins, 97 podiums and his two world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006. However, while there is likely to be little to celebrate in Russia this weekend as he prepares to almost certainly start from the back row, Alonso is determined to enjoy himself regardless.
“Unfortunately we have this penalty – 35 places. Let's see how we can manage the race from there. It seems like it could be one-stop for everyone and in which case there is not much of a chance to be creative, so the race could be a little bit more difficult.
“Let's try to enjoy the race whatever the final result is. Whatever the result is we have to maximise it and finish the race. I think we have a good opportunity to learn about the car with different things in the car and different things between the cars this weekend to learn for next year.”