May 14, 2017 / 5:11 PM / 2 years ago

Motor racing - Vandoorne gets three place grid penalty for Monaco

Formula One - F1 - Bahrain Grand Prix - Sakhir, Bahrain - 13/04/17 - McLaren Honda Formula One driver Stoffel Vandoorne of Belgium speaks during drivers' press conference at the Bahrain International Circuit ahead of the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

BARCELONA (Reuters) - McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne was handed a three-place grid penalty for this month’s Monaco Grand Prix after a collision with Brazilian Felipe Massa’s Williams in Spain on Sunday.

The penalty, at a tight and twisty circuit where overtaking is likely to be even more difficult than usual due to the season’s wider cars, is another setback for the Belgian’s struggling team.

Former world champions McLaren, who have struggled with an unreliable and uncompetitive Honda engine, are now the only team on the grid yet to score a point after five races.

Vandoorne started last at the Circuit de Catalunya, after a 10-place penalty for power unit changes, and retired with a broken suspension after making contact with Massa’s car half way through the race.

His Spanish team mate Fernando Alonso, who will miss Monaco to compete in the Indianapolis 500 on the same day, started seventh but finished 12th after also having an incident with Massa on the opening lap.

“I’m a little disappointed, but at least we finished the race, and hopefully this is the first sign of a step forward in reliability. We now need to prepare better the next Grand Prix,” said Alonso.

“Tomorrow at 9 AM I need to be at the Brickyard (Indianapolis), and at 12.00 noon I’ll be in the car for first practice.

“So I now have 14 hours to rest, nine of which will be spent on the plane, so we need to switch into Indy mode now, and for the next two weeks my full focus will be on that.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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