Should McLaren give up on Honda for 2018?

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The third year of McLaren’s partnership with Honda may not turn out to be the worst in terms of results. But it is certainly the most disappointing so far.

Honda returned to F1 in 2015 with a power unit which was both underpowered and unreliable. It was motivation-sapping season for all concerned.

There were clear signs of progress in 2016. The team could justifiably say it was on the right track as they became regular points-scorers.

But year three has been one of abject failure. Promises of quickly being on par with a late-2016 Mercedes power unit have proved laughable. Honda’s power unit fails to work much of the time and gives little power when it does. Only one of the teams’ cars has started each of the last two races.

McLaren have insisted they aren’t about to ditch their current engine manufacturer partner. But rumours persist they are considering a switch back to Mercedes power units for 2018.

The news that Sauber will use Honda’s engines next year opens the door for the Japanese manufacturer to remain in the sport with another team. Should McLaren therefore seize the opportunity to take a customer engine deal elsewhere for 2018?


It is almost guaranteed McLaren’s win-less streak which reach five years at the end of 2017. That is by far the longest such drought in the history of a team which has known barren spells before in the late seventies and mid nineties.

The difference is today the McLaren Group has activities far beyond Formula One. Those interests are being poorly represented by the purgatory of their current Formula One effort. It’s also proved demoralising for their drivers, as Fernando Alonso’s decision to skip the Monaco Grand Prix proves.

Being a factory engine team does give them status and, theoretically, the chance to create a power unit which is perfectly tailored for their needs. But both are so far from being true the time has come for McLaren to accept being ‘just’ a customer team – for the meantime at least.


Giving up on Honda, and no longer being a factory engine team, would mean more than just a loss of face. It would cost McLaren an enormous amount, as instead of getting engines for free they would have to pay someone for them. Their Honda deal is rumoured to last for another seven years and may impose financial penalties for early termination.

But perhaps most importantly it would undermine McLaren’s status as one of F1’s major teams. Red Bull’s three wins in the last 63 races shows that even the most well-funded customer team cannot compete for championships given how vital engines are under the current regulations.

McLaren’s 2017 setback should be seen in the context of the developments Honda has made. Having initially rejected following Mercedes’ lead on engine design they have now adopted it. The latest setback is unfortunate, but their chances of getting it right next time have never been better.

I say

Frustrated Alonso failed to start the last race
The temptation to drop Honda and obtain a supply of Mercedes engines must be strong. But it would bring new disadvantages in terms of how quickly McLaren could develop their own cars and the level of integration they would be able to achieve with Mercedes’ design.

It would also come with a whopping price tag. And it would send a clear signal that McLaren no longer considers itself the kind of top-tier outfit which expects a manufacturer engine deal. Accepting a customer engine supply means joining the league of ordinary teams.

McLaren does not want to be in a situation where it feels the need to let its star driver skip the most prestigious race on the calendar to compete in another event so he has a chance of winning for once. But like Alonso, McLaren exists to come first. Accepting a customer engine supply is not compatible with that aim, at a time when engine performance is so important.

The only way I can see it would be acceptable is as a temporary measure in the expectation that they will agree a manufacturer engine deal for 2021. This is when F1 is due for its next engine rules revision, and is likely to be the earliest time when a new manufacturer would or could enter.

Twitter says

The overwhelming sentiment on Twitter seems to be that Honda are letting McLaren down and Alonso will certainly leave by the end of the year if they don’t turn things around.

You say

Should McLaren sacrifice its desire for a manufacturer engine deal in order to get rid of Honda engines? Or is that a compromise too far? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Do you agree McLaren should end their relationship with Honda even if it means no longer having a works engine deal?

  • No opinion (2%)
  • Strongly disagree (40%)
  • Slightly disagree (21%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (5%)
  • Slightly agree (14%)
  • Strongly agree (19%)

Total Voters: 369

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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88 comments on “Should McLaren give up on Honda for 2018?”

  1. Absolutely Yes. I have no trust in Honda to produce a half decent power unit. They clearly don’t have the right leadership or ideas to be competitive in the near future. Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault keep improving all the time and Honda are falling even further behind. McLaren need a few years of respectability where they can plug at podiums and a wins before they decided to have anothet go at a works engine. Honda’s project from 2006-2008 turned out to be a failure, and it just shows the way they operate has been found out in the 21st century.

    1. I would completely agree. To be completely honest, having an engine works deal is only beneficial if the engine supplier can make an engine that can compete with the best. There is no advantage whatsoever in having and exclusively rubbish engine all to yourself. All you have then is a massive handicap.

      While people might argue that it’s only a matter of time until Honda catches up, I would have to disagree with them on a lot of fronts.

      Firstly, Honda haven’t shown that they don’t have the capability and the right attitude to make a good engine in Formula 1. They need to leverage outside expertise and move their base to the UK, neither of which they have shown any inclination to do.

      Secondly, they have poor leadership. Arai and Hasegawa have been the most clueless leaders with a complete lack of vision.

      Thirdly, the amount of damage done to Mclaren’s legacy over the past 2 years is tremendous, and if they spend another 4 to 5 seasons for Honda to get it right, they’ve destroyed a lot of goodwill that McLaren have garnered over 50 years of racing.

      I would think McLaren should dump Honda later this year and switch to Mercedes power up until 2021, where hopefully the regulation change doesn’t put the same kind of emphasis on the power unit anymore. They might not win championships in 2018,2019 and 2020, but they’ll get a handful of podiums and get the respect of the paddock back.

  2. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
    7th May 2017, 11:42

    Strongly agree.We have seen 0 improvements from Honda these years,everyone at McLaren are losing their patience(if there has been left any…).For me Honda was too late supplying a second team with engines.It would be good for Mclaren to get Mercedes engines & keep an eye on th

    1. For once that’s not really Honda’s fault – wasn’t it Ron Dennis that demanded exclusivity?

    2. Sviatoslav (@)
      8th June 2017, 15:46

      I’d say we have seen negative improvements from Honda. This year they’re worse than in 2015, which is inredible.

  3. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
    7th May 2017, 11:43

    *the Sauber Honda project

  4. Giving up on Honda is tempting, but ultimately a knee-jerk reaction that will cause long-term pain. They need to weather this one out and Honda needs to do whatever it takes to get a competitive engine, including bringing Mercedes in in an advisory role.

    Unless there are strong signs by the end of the year that McLaren can legitimately fight for the podium next year, they must be prepared to let Alonso go. I’d go so far to say it is a moral obligation to do so – Alonso is one of the best and most exciting drivers and Honda has cheated us, the fans, out of getting to see Alonso fight at the front. That HAS to change as soon as possible.

    1. I agree. Mac needs to see this one out, at least from where it stands today. Perhaps if next year somehow still sees them this badly off, which is just so hard to keep imagining, then maybe they’ll have no choice, but realistically moving away from being a factory based team to be a customer based one is only a ‘guarantee’ of never winning the WDC and only just being in the points regularly.

      They’re there for the big trophies and as dire as it is, they’ll only get their with a factory effort, contracts are in place, surely (nudge nudge wink wink) they know what their problems are that need addressing, and they need to just persist, as I say, at least from where they stand at this particular time.

    2. Great comment Jeremy, I agree totally. They have to stick with Honda, and let Alonso go… But where to?

      1. Mercedes if it were up to me.

        1. Alongside which Merc driver comes first this year I reckon

      2. I’m not really a Mercedes fan and I think Alonso would have too much pride to put his tail between his legs and crawl back to Ferrari. Maybe Renault?

    3. That has to be the slowest Knee jerk reaction ever. Honda has proven to be unable to produce a competitive Power Unit.
      Mclaren should have fired them last year.

    4. +1 Your second para is COTD material. I fully agree.

    5. @jeremy Nice balanced comment. Flip if CH says the R word he gets crucified here but Honda seem to be fair game because they’re perceived to be hurting McLaren.

    6. I also agree @jeremy, well said.

      I’d like to add that as it is, the only customer team that has been winning races in the last four seasons is Red Bull – this year they aren’t there, not just because of the engine, but because their chassis hasn’t been up there with what Mercedes and Ferrari produces – might change in Spain, let’s see – and that’s where McLaren have been since 2013 at least, with a subpar chassis, and reliablitity and operation, execution arguably underwhelming already in 2012, or even 2009.

      It might be hard to get all the people you want when you are not competing for the top, but McLaren clearly needed to change, and the Honda shocker has given them time out of the chassis-limelight to do so, to build a core team of good people.

  5. Every single argument to drop Honda has already been thought of BEFORE the deal was struck, the cost to tell them to go away would be incredible, McLaren are in a bad place and to drop Honda could finish them.
    Alonso might leave? Let him go. I do love the drivers of this fine sport but it irks me when paid drivers publicly humiliate their own team. Get with the program or get lost.

  6. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    7th May 2017, 12:09

    Strongly disagree. I liked Honda when they were in the sport before and I want to see them do well – not just for them, but I think having four engine manufacturers capable of winning races can only be a good thing for F1. Unfortunately Honda’s struggles doesn’t do the idea of attracting other engines into the sport much good so I think it’s not only good for McLaren and Honda for them to improve but F1 in general.

    As for McLaren, their downturn started long before they got hold of the Honda unit and while they keep acting like a ‘big player’ they haven’t been that in quite a while and not all their failures are down to the Honda PU. McLaren need to be patient – it will come to them but I tend to think just as much Honda needs to rethink their approach – so do McLaren. Also it’s worth pointing out dragging Honda through the mud (looking at you Alonso) isn’t particularly helpful.

    1. Agree with you except that I don’t think FA is dragging them through the mud. Away from the heat of the moment FA speaks of the whole teams’ frustrations but persistence as all they can do. It is only in the heat of the moment when his understandable ‘road rage’ comes out during the races, and mainly to my point F1 chooses those for us to hear, that has presented us this image of FA dragging the team through the mud. Without is being fed those hand selected radio comms by F1’s choosing FA would appear remarkably diplomatic and patient to the public.

  7. If maclaren really do take themselves seriously then they simply must switch to a competent engine manufacturer.

    Let us not forget that they had Mercedes engines before Honda either. If their chassis is as good as some people claim it is then any of the other engines, even last years engines would instantly put them up into the points and have them fighting for the podium.

    A few more seasons of coming last or second to last is going to mean that no good drivers will want to race for them, nobody will sponsor them and they will continue to be humiliated.

    Let us not forget that their own shareholders may start to reduce expenditure and further limit them to the back of the field.

    If they are to survive as an F1 team then they must use an engine that is capable of finishing a race and getting some points.

    1. I disagree. That is an expensive proposition. And gone are the days when you just build a good chassis and slap a good engine in and away you go. It is an integration now, and realistically they might have it within them this season to get themselves to where you suggest they would go by finding another maker. They may yet, even this season, find enough to start finishing races in the low points regularly, which isn’t much less than they would get throwing everything out and resetting as a customer team. At least at this particular point. For 2017 it is what it is, so their only option is a nose to the grindstone approach.

      1. Hate need manufacturer engine claims
        7th May 2017, 13:30

        So McLaren needs to put their nose to the grind stone to improve their engine? They aren’t the ones working on the engines, it’s not like anything they are doing is in the engine so what would McLaren be improving?

        I don’t understand the claims of integration being so important. They could use an Indy car Honda duct taped into the car and it would last longer than the F1 engine. Integration means nothing if the engine, sorry PU, just doesn’t work.

        1. For today’s F1 purposes McLaren is Honda and Honda is McLaren. When I say McLaren I mean Honda too. Mercedes and Ferrari have proven that since the intro of these complex PU’s it is the factory based teams that are succeeding. How the PU performs which includes MGU-K and MGK-H affects how the brakes work which affects handling, drive ability etc etc. Cooling comes into play. Are Honda responsible for the brakes too? You can see where it is no longer a matter of duct taping a good engine to a good chassis and away you go, right? Chassis and PU have never moreso had to perform as one than since 2014. So as I say, it’s McHonda now.

          1. That’s a really good point.

          2. Yes, excellent point. The ‘Garagistas’ era has ended. Again. Sorry Williams, RBR and the rest of the also-rans.

      2. Really hoping Ross Brawn’s new regulations would impose a modular engine requirement — that way chassis and engine builders can compete independently as teams can easily switch between engines with less of an integration penalty.

        (free up the kind of engine you can produce too — so long as it fits in the provided dimensions and energy consumption envelope).

      3. Sviatoslav (@)
        8th June 2017, 16:02

        @robbie – your assumptions have nothing to do with reality.
        First, I believe in what Brown – not you – has told today: McLaren has lost more money because of Honda than they earned with them.
        Second, Honda can’t even guarantee when their new engine will be ready. They planned it for Canada, and now it’s “We don’t know, let’s wait.” So lame.
        “They may yet, even this season, find enough to start finishing races in the low points regularly” – wrong. There’s no proof that they will. Honda has built the worst engine in 2017, and they can’t improve it for a long time. Points may be possible only due to failures from other teams.

        My logic tells me that if McLaren has had the worst season throughout their entire F1 journey only because of Honda, then they must leave Honda immediately. Three years is enough to see that. (BTW, I was sure that McLaren will fight for podiums this year. But no, Honda doesn’t know what to do, and Hasegawa tells that in almost each interview.)

  8. John Toad (@)
    7th May 2017, 12:29

    Maclaren should ditch F1 and race in sports cars instead.
    It would be much better for marketing their own brand supercars than F1 ever has been and they would probably get a lot more success.

    1. The issue is that they would lose even more money were they to quit F1 entirely. I think they should seriously attack Le Mans and similar races to achieve the brand success that would rival F1 wins.

  9. How many time a team has won the trophy without a works engine deal in recent history? Yeah, only Brawn GP. And that’s F1’s fairy tale. Not happening again.

    1. Sviatoslav (@)
      8th June 2017, 16:04

      Red Bull four years in a row, no?

  10. That second tweet …

    McLaren want to win again???? Go back to Mercedes and Jenson Button.

    Honestly? Jenson Button? Has that Mister Andryszews watched any F1 since 2012?
    Sometimes I’m baffled by the amount of nonsense that some people can write and still be quoted.

  11. Problem is not whether to drop Honda, but what options they could consider.

    There are three but in reality only Mercedes or Renault are in the running. Ferrari is out as they are a direct competitor in their road car market. Purely from a marketing point of view Ferrari are not an option.

    I don’t believe Mercedes or Renault are good options as they run their own teams and as such getting the best power units is doubtful. Being an also ran with either Mercedes or Renault (like Williams or Red Bull x2) is not better then being a Sauber at the rear end of the field with Honda power. It is not going to sell anymore volumes of road cars.

    No, Mclaren need to stick with Honda and sort out the reliability and power of the engines and bring pressure to bear for better performance by having outside designers to have input into the Honda engines.

    Long term there are only two options for McLaren. Persevere with the Honda engines and get that up to speed, or withdraw from F1 and concentrate on their road going car business plus electronic components supply businesses.

    I think they will persevere in F1 and carry on, even with the bad results, till the new engine regulations kick in (2020?). But expect them the focus possibly stronger in long distance racing to promote their road car range.

    Expecting them to have their own engine for the new F1 regulations to replicate Ferrari both in racing and road cars.

    1. I agree with you. Red bull is in big trouble when Renault is up to speed in few years time. Renault will not give them the factory settings just like the factory team. Red bull is relying on Adrian Newey to make them competitive.
      What if Adrian Newey retires or no more involve in F1, they will be like Williams with matte blue-red colour liveries.

  12. I fear it’s already too late for McLaren. They’ll probably lose Alonso at the end of the season and it will be very hard to replace him. As long as they have Honda engines no potential top driver wants to go to McLaren anymore, so next year they will have a poor engine and mediocre drivers at best.

    The only thing that can save them from this downward spiral is to return to Mercedes. The chassis is reasonably good and with a strong engine they will likely be the 3rd-fastest team. That would give them a much stronger foundation to attract sponsors and good drivers. Being a customer team is a very minor handicap compared to having such an awful engine.

    1. Quick question, do Mercedes have to supply them and do they have a right of refusal. Is the possibility of bolting a Mercedes engine in the McLaren not depended upon a willingness by Mercedes to supply?

      Might not be in their interest or willingness or capabilities.

      1. I completely agree with @f1infugures. Once Alonso leaves they are going to find it very difficult to replace him with anyone really good. I just cannot see Honda making a big enough leap forward to be competitive for another whole season at least. As Keith suggests I think they would be better off going back to Mercedes for 2 or 3 years until the next major change in regulations.

        1. I think there are plenty of okay drivers that would go to McLaren @f1infigures @phil-f1-21, they do have a budget and either the Honda is still rubbish, and it won’t matter to have a top billing driver(!), they can go to any of the younger guys that have talent but lack money to get to F1, or it will finally come good somehow, and then one of the the younger sub-top guys who don’t see a good chance at Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull will go there.

  13. Am also expecting McLaren to carry on with a McLaren liveried car in the Indy car series to promote their brand in the USA. Possibly not with FA driving but who knows.

    They would be better off offering the sponsorship to Ganassi or Penske but nevertheless from a marketing point of view the exposure for the McLaren brand in the USA is going to be huge just entering the Indy500.

    Marketing genius. Bonus for McLaren brand awareness in the USA will be if FA does well and he likes it, a change to Indycars might be as good as a rest from F1.

  14. Problem for F1 is that McLaren may decide it does not need F1 to promote itself. Notice that even with an under performing F1 team, the company is growing at a phenomenal rate.

    “Geographically, North America continued to be McLaren Automotive’s single largest market with deliveries of 1139 cars, a 106 per cent increase over 2015. Europe ended 2016 selling 996 cars in total, an increase of 153 per cent, whilst the rapidly-developing market in China sold 228 cars in total.

    The Asia Pacific region grew by 90 per cent while the newly combined Middle East, Africa and Central and South America region grew by 69 per cent.

    McLaren Australia sold 93 cars last year, up almost 160 per cent. By comparison, Lamborghini sold 127 and Ferrari 188.”

    Huge numbers of sales in the USA and outside Europe.

    Question becomes does McLaren need F1 and can F1 run with 9 teams?

    1. Yes McLaren needs F1 and in the grand scheme of things they’ll get past these troubled times and have better days again. Given their longstanding tenure in F1 and the potential for the future, their current woes are a blip on the radar overall.

    2. @Gerrit, so you say that McLaren should leave F1 because only 30% of their sales is in Europe.
      Interestingly also Ferrari, Mercedes, and Red Bull have roughly 30% of their sales in Europe.

      This way it’s guaranteed that Renault will be WCC :p

  15. Evil Homer (@)
    7th May 2017, 13:49

    I think Honda and McLaren need to stick together despite how bad it seems at the moment. I dont think anyone thought they would still be this bad 3 years in, but here we are.

    Its often been spoken that the Japanese do it their own way, I just spent two weeks there and they cetainly do their own thing, but its seems Honda now know they need a global approach to be great in F1!

    I voted stay with them as we need more engine providers in F1 not less (any hopefully good ones !!!)

  16. I don’t think they have much choice really if they want to be championship contenders. If they want to go the easy route and regain that podium contender/regular point scorer yeah, then Mercedes is a good option. But Williams and Force India are Mercedes customers, and while fast, they’ll never win a race, let alone a championship.

    McLaren aims for that. There’s not benefit for them to be just points scorers and finish maybe 4th in the manufacturers championship. They are a very sucessful team (or were, at least) so they aim to replicate that, not just score well.

    So in that sense, they have to stick with Honda. Maybe Honda gets it right soon, and they’ll be the only ones taking advantage of it. The Sauber deal is a superb way for Honda to start developing at a much faster rate. And we also have to bear in mind that they made a lot of changes to the PU, the current one is completely differnet from the 2016 engine, so maybe there’s a lot of unlocked potential waiting on the sidelines while they fix the reliability issues.

    1. McLaren aims for that. There’s not benefit for them to be just points scorers and finish maybe 4th in the manufacturers championship. They are a very sucessful team (or were, at least) so they aim to replicate that, not just score well.

      They also aim at preserving a legacy that they’ve created in the last 50 years in this sport. A legacy they do want to tarnish by finishing in last … if they finish at all.

      I don’t think anyone imagined Honda destroying McLaren… but that’s exactly what’ happening. They’ll have to make the decision to save some face and switch to Mercedes, or lose everything why’ve worked for by sticking with Honda.

    2. I agree, McLaren need to partner with Honda for the long-term, as their works team and push for the Sauber deal to get completed, to aid development and reliability in 2018. It’s no good for anyone to have a car running last years engines and better for the sport in the long term to have that 4th engine supplier with 4 units on the grid and in testing.

      The MCL32 looks to be a good car, better than the rest of the midfield, with some additional improvement to the PU you would expect McLaren to be stepping past and chasing for P5-6 in 2018.

  17. Yeh please ditch Honda and go the Williams route of being a “best of the rest” team for paydrivers.

  18. Paul Ortenburg
    7th May 2017, 16:24

    McLaren should do their best to upset Alonso enough so that he switches teams/quits.

    This will all but guarantee that Honda will then produce one of the best engines in existence and will take McLaren to 3 straight CWC wins.

    Meanwhile whatever team Alonso goes to will have a string of bad luck on all fronts from design, to tactics to mechanical failures.

    1. They only need to stop paying him huge amounts if they wanna get rid of him.

    2. Makes sense. Remove the only element that has actually delivered in McLaren Honda so far and replace it with something sub standard.

      Do you work at McLaren or Honda?

  19. I hope they don’t drop Honda. And I hope Honda don’t drop out. I think Japanese car manufacturing needs some more success on a global scale, Nissan dropping out of WEC so soon was a huge blow with a similar attempt of innovation and trying to prove their ability to think differently (Nissan’s FF and Honda’s size-zero.)

    That being said you can only lose for so long before money dries up. It’s understandable if McLaren try to go for a surer thing. It’s not inconceivable for a works/top customer team to make a bad chassis.

  20. This would not be as bad if it was the beginning of yr 2…but its not…and we are still hearing that later in the season we are expecting new upgrades….that will get them to the front….what …2 seconds a lap minimum??
    I cannot understand why Honda cannot bolt a engine into any sort of chassis and pound it round their own racetrack….could save a lot of embarresment.

  21. As an angry McLaren fan, I want to react strongly by saying they should ditch the Honda engine from the car.
    But the reality is, McLaren is sure to not win any title with a Mercedes power unit as long as Mercedes runs a works team.
    So the best they could do is keeping the Honda engine, hoping for a miracle every year, watching the ship to sink…

  22. I’ve an idea, McLaren should split its team in half in 2018 with one car continues to run the Honda engine, so in case it starts turning around the corner, the team can benefit from its upturn, and I think Steffol should be driving this McLaren Honda.

    On the other side of the garage, McLaren should run the other car in Mercedes customer engine with Fernando driving. This way can guarantee some decent performance from the team and keeps Fernando happy. Until Honda becomes fully up to speed, then McLaren can switch back to a full McLaren Honda team.

    The only problem if the FIA/Honda allows this to happen ………. I know the chance of this happening is close to zero, but McLaren is in a dire position, they have to think out of the box for a quick solution.

    1. I see no reason that they couldn’t use 2 different engines in a team either…..and no with Bernie it probably couldn’t happen……but the new owners seem more forthcoming to new ideas…

      1. Not allowed under the current rules. A team needs to be a single chassis engine combination.

  23. No, stick with it. Better than starting from scratch again.
    Would probably not look good for them if Sauber started outperforming them with Honda engines, if that were to happen.
    No need for another Red Bull/Renault drama.

  24. I completely understand the argument that you need to be a “factory” team to succeed in this era of Formula 1.

    It does not follow from that, though, that Honda are the manufacturer to do it with. People who remember the late 80s and think it is inevitable that success will be repeated are looking at it with rose tinted glasses. No one who was involved in the 80s edition of Honda F1 are still working on their F1 engines today: literally the only thing they have in common is a logo.

    The most troubling thing is that this is Honda’s second clean-sheet F1 engine design in 4 years and it’s the second one that has been under powered, thirsty, and unreliable — and they don’t even seem to know why it is that way.

    Going back to being a customer team may not be the way back to championship contention, but there is no evidence whatsoever that staying with Honda will be any better. If anything, it appears likely to drive away any remaining prospects of sponsorship for the team (who wants to put their name on a race car that can’t even make the start half the time?) Lack of sponsorship is the one sure-fire way to kill an F1 team no matter how glamourous its history may have been.

  25. The reason to split with Mercedes (or any other competitor who is also an engine manufacturer) still exist. This season has gone far worse than nearly anyone could have imagined thus far and the temptation to part ways with Honda must be overwhelming. But, that is only a solution for achieving possible mid-pack mediocrity.

    The only possibility to rise above their current failure and to surpass mediocrity is to do whatever it takes to get the Honda engine as close to parity as possible and build on that. Maybe McLaren/Honda needs to bring in someone with additional experience/knowledge/skills to consult and advise. Doing things the same way is not working. They need to try something different. Maybe not as radical as the changes that were tried this season. If Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault can build these engines, so can Honda. If the 2017 version cannot be fixed, then they need to have already started redesigning for 2018. They certainly have enough failures to tell them what not to do. Many great designs were built on knowledge gained from previous failures.

  26. AntoineDeParis (@antoine-de-paris)
    7th May 2017, 19:51

    If “Honda F1” would issue shares right now, I’d buy some with both hands.
    Just for next year’s rebound or even longterm.
    Main reasons:
    – current sutuation: catastrophic
    – Sauber next year
    – determination, dedication- they still got it (?)

  27. Whilst far from being a world beater, last years engine was a massive improvement on the first. Towards the end it was pretty reliable, often reached Q3 and scored regular points. Why did they start completely from scratch again? I thought the whole point was to do something design wise different to Mercedes, only to decide in the third year to scrap the lot. This is three years too of McLaren not having any meaningful real world aero data as they have a car unable to run at its maximum. They have no idea how it would handle entering a corner 20kph faster for example.

  28. Mass Damper
    7th May 2017, 20:48

    No good option. Customer teams aren’t bringing the beans home. Only Mercedes and Ferrari are competitive right now from what I see in qualifying and victories. Red Bull definitely isn’t the works Renault outfit anymore and where have they been this year? I’m sure the issues go deeper for RBR, but it’s no mistake that fully integrated and well budgeted teams are making a dent. I think McLaren could be top 5 with a Mercedes customer deal, probably neck and neck with Williams. But at some point, top 5 is not winning. So grinding out this experience through the fire with Honda may well be the only viable option for a solid top 2 contender. Back in the day when Honda dropped out the first time, Ron Dennis jumped from Ford, Peugeot and eventually settled on a fragile V10 Mario Illien finally tamed and subsequently handed over fully to Mercedes. Recent glory days of the McLaren are a myth. Hakkinen and Coulthard eventually gained a fast silver car, but taking even the Montoya, Raikkonen, Alonso, Hamilton years, engine failures were non uncommon and they havre but a single constructor trophy to speak of since 1992. Stay with Honda. They really don’t have a better choice in the long run which is all they can think of right now.

  29. Mass Damper
    7th May 2017, 20:50

    No good option. Customer teams aren’t bringing the beans home. Only Mercedes and Ferrari are competitive right now from what I see in qualifying and victories. Red Bull definitely isn’t the works Renault outfit anymore and where have they been this year? I’m sure the issues go deeper for RBR, but it’s no mistake that fully integrated and well budgeted teams are making a dent. I think McLaren could be top 5 with a Mercedes customer deal, probably neck and neck with Williams. But at some point, top 5 is not winning. So grinding out this experience through the fire with Honda may well be the only viable option for a solid top 2 contender. Back in the day when Honda dropped out the first time, Ron Dennis jumped from Ford, Peugeot and eventually settled on a fragile V10 Mario Illien finally tamed and subsequently handed over fully to Mercedes. Recent glory days of the McLaren are a myth. Hakkinen and Coulthard eventually gained a fast silver car, but taking even the Montoya, Raikkonen, Alonso, Hamilton years, engine failures were non uncommon and they havre but a single constructor trophy to speak of since 1992. Stay with Honda and expand their operations to more series I would stay, to strengthen the partnership beyond praying for a good F1 mill. McLaren really doesn’t have a better choice for a partner in the long run which is all they can think of right now.

  30. It’s just an unfortunate situation all-round. On the bright side, Liberty Media saying that they’re considering loosening engine restrictions to help let Honda catch up, and the extra data they’ll get by supplying another team, could help a lot. So, I voted for McLaren to stick with Honda.

    Actually… scratch that. I vote for McLaren to start producing their own power unit. They already do a hybrid for their road cars. Then, when they find out what a monumental task it is to play catch-up with the engine manufacturers who had a head start, they can stop being so catty.

  31. If you look at how many other teams have won races in the last three seasons, you find there are 8 races which have been won by a team other than Mercedes, and none of these have been a Mercedes customer team, they have all been powered by competing power unit manufacturers. So there isn’t any reason to believe McLaren would win a race next season if they did use a Mercedes power unit.
    Even when both Mercedes cars crashed out of the Spanish GP last year, the best a Mercedes customer car could manage is 5th, in the entire second half of last season not one of their customers got a podium place.
    The last time McLaren got a podium was at the Australian GP in 2014 (2nd and 3rd), which was when they were a Mercedes customer. Williams, as a Mercedes customer, had 9 podiums in the same season. So it seems McLaren ability to translate the power unit performance into on track performance deteriorated as that season progressed.
    In 2015 Mercedes customers had 6 podiums, in the 2016 they had 3 podiums, and so far this season (4 races) the best result for a Mercedes customer has been 6th. It seems the performance of Mercedes customers has deteriorated each year. Statistics is very fickle, but the perception is to expect even less podium finishes from Mercedes’ customers this season and next year’s as well.
    While the Honda power unit has been unreliable and has been below average in power, there is time to at least produce a decent result. The aim now shouldn’t be to win races, or even podium finishes, but to showing an improvement through the season and to finish the last 4 races of this season with both cars in the points.

    1. @drycrust I like your statistics, but I don’t think they all make sense.
      The Mercedes customer teams are cash-strapped teams who cannot build an incredibly good chassis. With similar engines (as before 2014) teams like Williams and Force India were midfield at most. The Mercedes engine was the main reason why Williams was performing so well in 2014, although their chassis had improved as well. Due to their limited resources, other teams caught up in 2015-2016, which explains why they’ve dropped back. It’s just that Mercedes is hard to beat, as they have the strongest engine, a good chassis and two strong drivers. Yet Williams came close to winning a few races in 2014.
      While the McLaren chassis was poor in 2014, it’s been pretty good since 2015, so with a good engine I think they will be well ahead of Red Bull. Maybe being 3rd-fastest is not enough for McLaren, but if they can improve their chassis further, they may be able to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari. Being a customer team may not be ideal, but I think it’s just a slight handicap. McLaren just has to work a little harder on the chassis to overcome the deficit. Until 2012 they were quite good at it.

  32. Ferrari, Seb fan
    7th May 2017, 21:41

    Strongly agree. McLaren should get an engine deal, rebuild the team and then when they get a independent engine deal after the company in question has had a bit of practice.

  33. Something to think about is that Honda are now getting some assistance from Mercedes (With there Hybrid systems I believe?) & we won’t see the results of that for another few months.

    I think they should stick with Honda for at least another year or 2 because I don’t see becoming a customer team been that big a benefit if they want to return to winning races/championships, Especially if doing so is going to cost them a lot of there funding which is going to hurt unless there able to find a title sponsor that fill’s the funding gap.

    If this was 10 years ago & they had a good title sponsor to fund them & recent proof they could build a good car then maybe switching back to Mercedes would be more of a viable option. However they have no big sponsors, They don’t have the funding they used to & haven’t built a proven race winning/regular podium finishing/title contending car since 2012.

  34. Watching McLaren’s struggles is painful and frankly they and Honda often look ridiculous. Alonso should leave this year, if he can, because they’re not going to sort out the engine issue next year, and Formula 1 needs him racing for a team that has some chance of winning a race. True, it’s a tough choice for McLaren: either virtual anonymity as a customer team or unwanted media attention as a Honda-supplied team. It’s also true that McLaren became increasingly second-rate over the last eight years as Mercedes customers in the post-Brawn era. Ferrari eventually dug themselves out of the same pit. Maybe McLaren can eventually do the same with Honda. It should be possible with their resources – but the absurdity of yet another season of engine failures and woeful underperformance makes that almost entirely a leap of faith.

  35. The big difference between Ferarri, Mercedes and McLaren is that both the former are totally integrated teams. With Honda, as with Red Bull and Renault, Maclaren are effectively a customer team. Although Red Bull did well with Renault in the pre-hybrid era the cracks opened up when the engine rules changed and they will be in danger of becoming ‘a Williams’ if Renault get their act together. If so, then all three major players will be fully integrated. The obvious solution for Honda, if it is serious about winning, is to buy a team. For MacLaren the only way forward is to buy an engine manufacture. The margins are now so fine that full integration appears to be the only way forward for competitive advantage.

  36. Saw this great video on youtube where they talked about new fuel and oil suppliers.
    Honda’s new engine was designed for Exxon Mobile but with very short notice.
    So short that the reporters who looked out for Castrol BP fuel drums during winter testing couldn’t find any. Hence Renault and Honda engines (with Castrol BP) are struggling.
    Renault isn’t doing that much better this year, yet the Renault-Nissan groups is bigger than Ferrari, Daimler Group etc.
    Castrol BP have a lot of catching up to do too?
    RedBull are struggling too by their standards, but at least they have an experienced fuel/oil/lubrication supplier and the difference between them and Renault is incredible.

    Even in the V8 era, Honda wasn’t special.
    But McLaren have made a decision to go with Honda.
    Like the rest of the world, I hope things work out and that they bring a B or C spec car and engine very soon alongside a livery that makes the car look like a winner.
    Looks great from the rear, but when you’re at the back of the grid, none of your competitors will see that side.

  37. We had 11 teams and a possibility of 22 cars on the grid in 2016. then we lost Manor, and we have McLaren making only occasional appearances meaning a possible grid of only 18 cars in 2017. Sauber then take the Honda engine and unless something dramatic happens we’ll be down to 16 cars on the grid – drop of 25% in 2 years!!. It would appear that for the sake of the sport there seems to be a little ‘cross-team’ assistance required here in order to stop F1 descending into a farce – particularly when you have someone of Alonso’s potential just wasting away in the garage. Come on F1 – look after US the fans, by looking after yourselves AND your fellow competitors and allow this magnificent sport to flourish….

  38. The sooner McLaren ditch Honda, the sooner they can return to their competitive level of 2013 & 2014.

    1. I see what you did there Hairs_, don’t disagree either.

    2. That’s good enough for now… I’ll take it.

  39. The engine alone won’t win you races. McLaren designed two very poor chassis in their latter years with Mercedes, 2013 – 2014, and that poor form got transfered to their collaboration with the woeful Honda engines.
    Mercedes was a full works operation from 2010. And McLaren won 18 races between 2010 – 2012, to Mercedes’ sole win.
    When we look at Williams. They struggled to score points while using the same Renault engine, Redbull were winning races and championships with. Not until they switched to Mercedes, did they become consistent point scorers. Even at that, there were frequent moments they under performed in races.
    Manor used the same Mercedes winning engines, but you would be had pressed to believe they didn’t have a Morris-minor engine in their car.

    What this all points to is that, the teams don’t win with customer engines because they either don’t have the resources to design and build a good chassis. Or that even if they are sufficiently resourced, they do a very bad job at it, like McLaren had.

  40. I think they should stick to Honda. But I don’t understand why McLaren-Honda spend so much money on Alonso (I think he is paid by Honda, but in the end it doesn’t make a difference) – better spend that money on development and get a cheaper driver (like Vandoorne). In the end, even if Alonso gains McLaren one or two places on average, this does not really help much if you are close to last. And in terms of development, I don’t think the driver can really have much of an influence when the engine is as bad as it is.

  41. Brilliantly written arguments, @keithcollantine.

    There is another possible reason why McLaren should stick with Honda:

    If you work hard towards something for 3 years and then throw it all away without having stuck out for the success, I imagine there must be a huge negative impact on the psyche of the workforce from the ground up to the top?

    1. @shimks I think that’s the throw-good-money-after-bad fallacy. Sometimes you just have to quit something if it doesn’t work out and take the pain. With the current rate of development McLaren might be winners again in 2060. No-one can afford to wait such a long time.

      1. @f1infigures This side of the argument is the Sunk Cost view! i.e. any cost incurred up the current point should not factor in making the best decision for the future. On that basis I still feel McLaren should stick with Honda for the long-term, while switching to Mercedes might get them a few podiums in 2018 and regular top 5 finishes, it is doubtful they would have a shot at winning the WCC/WDC.

        If McLaren can form a high performing relationship with Honda ready for the complete engine regulation overhaul in 2021, they will be in a much better place for the next regulation change, is a WCC possible…no, WDC..a long-shot. However that doesn’t change if switch engine suppliers and back to square one in 3 seasons time!

    2. No one can predict the outcome of the Mclaren – Honda marriage, but there are moments to cut one’s losses and move on. Time and money invested in a project is no guarantee of success. What performance metrics Mclaren can use to estimate the potential of Honda finding a solution to both their performance and reliability troubles, are not clear cut, but if Honda are not showing a willingness to change their procedures and adopt a more open and international engineering team, then the sooner Mclaren starts afresh, the better they are at protecting their reputation and securing their status as a competitive team.
      Being paid perhaps a hundred million to advertise Honda, is good for the balance sheet but without the right exposure, the image takes a battering.

    3. @f1infigures, OOliver: Interesting comments. Thanks, guys!

  42. I think, from a performance standpoint, McLaren is better off with a Mercedes engine than a Honda unit, even if the former is customer and the latter a works unit. After all, it’s struggling to stay ahead of year-old Ferrari customer teams, and has been going backwards since 2015. A works team might be the only way for McLaren to get the title. But it won’t be with this one, and the longer this continues, the more difficulty McLaren will face in attracting a manufacturer to them rather than, say, Force India or Williams (either of whom would likely accept such a unit if it was an improvement over the Mercedes).

    The one advantage of Honda is that it is effectively a title-sponsor deal without the title. The trouble is that I’m not sure McLaren can afford to drop Honda prior to getting a true title sponsor…

  43. Graham pugh
    9th May 2017, 19:16

    I think McLaren should and will stick with Honda for the foreseeable future. I think that once Honda get on top of the gremlins in their newly designed Pu the future will look alot brighter. The Pu has alot of potential once the reliability is sorted out and i totally expect them to be regular in the points by the end of the season.

  44. I think McLaren should make a deal with Peugeot. It worked great before. In getting a works deal with Mercedes. ;-)

  45. Sviatoslav (@)
    8th June 2017, 15:42

    McLaren must drop Honda engines deal not in 90 days but now.
    Honda won’t be able to build a proper power unit until 2021. For McLaren it’d be much better to fight for podiums and occasional wins and pay for engines, then fight with Sauber and desperately trying not to finish last.
    When Hasegawa can’t tell when the upgrades will be ready, when Hasegawa tells that they don’t know what’s wrong with the engine… they prove that they’re incompetent, and will never be with current people in Honda.

  46. McLaren should stick with Honda – Honda is by far the biggest producer of engines in the world – think billions not millions per year. They have become specialists in all engine types from small to huge.
    I have no doubt they will master this engine type and when they do McLaren, Honda, F1 and whoever is driving for them will benefit.

    I hope it’s Alonso – he will go up even further in my books if he sticks it out for 2 more years

  47. Richard Ward
    14th June 2017, 23:38

    The problem with Honda is they try to get everything perfect – unfortunately they took far to long to develop an engine and rebuilding it each year did not help matters. In Formula 1, everything is in a continual state of improvement – you see teams bringing new aero packages, items to help the cars improve, even in race season. Honda in short, knew they were going in to a pressurised situation to supply engines and that time was of the essence to get the unit right. If they did not think they could have got the engine done on time, why did they accept the contract?? I would not mind seeing McLaren getting something like either Mercedes or an uprated Renault engine could have done better. It’s not too long ago that Red Bull couldn’t be beaten, then Mercedes came to dominate.

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