Carlos Sainz Jr is out of the Belgian Grand Prix after his McLaren McL35 developed an issue with the Renault power unit and suffered an exhaust failure while on a reconnaissance lap to the grid.
The McLaren driver was due to start seventh, his best grid position at Spa.
Sainz reported something “broke” on his car while on-track for a recce lap more than half an hour before the start.
He returned to the pits and was wheeled into the pits, but McLaren barely had to investigate and did not work on the MCL35 after diagnosing the problem.
McLaren communicated subsequently that the exhaust failure was triggered by a power unit issue “which we will investigate after the race”.
Sainz had a new set of engine components at the previous race in Spain to cure a cooling problem, while team-mate Lando Norris – who will be McLaren’s only representative in the race, starting 10th – has a fresh engine for Spa.
“On the second lap to the grid I started actually smelling something not quite right on my car and suddenly I start hearing the exhaust had broken – so I went into the pits and we found out that this is actually a PU issue that generated an exhaust blowout,” Sainz told Sky afterwards.
“So, yeah, second consecutive year that I’ve not been able to start the race at Spa, on my favourite track, so at my end I’m not happy.”
It continues a frustrating season for Sainz who will leave McLaren at the end of the year to join Ferrari but has had a series of setbacks that have restricted his results.
Sainz also extends an unfortunate Spa record that features three non-finishes and only one points finish for 10th in 2017.