Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Singapore, 2017

McLaren expect more success and more sponsors post-Honda

2017 F1 season

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McLaren executive director Zak Brown believes the team will be able to compete at the front again and attract more sponsors after switching from Honda to Renault.
Brown said the decision to split from Honda, and give up the income which came with the deal, has the full support of the team’s shareholders.

“We’re fortunate in that we have very committed shareholders,” said Brown. “The remit is ‘go win races, make the right sporting decisions and the business will follow’.”

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Singapore, 2017
Singapore Grand Prix practice in pictures
“It’s certainly going to be easier to find sponsorship partners running towards the front of the field,” he added. “It’s something that we’ve invested a lot in, the commercial team. It’s a big area of my background, I’m certainly not responsible for the speed of the race car.”

“I’m confident, it’ll take some time, but our shareholders are very committed and we wouldn’t have made this decision if we weren’t prepared to work through short-term economic loss from the lack of Honda income.”

While playing down concerns that McLaren could regret their decision if Honda raise their game in 2018 or beyond, Brown said his bigger concern was escalating costs.

“I think probably what we’re most concerned about is not a Red Bull-Honda combination,” he said. “We’ve got to get budgets under control.”

“The reason you see the gaps in the field now is the gaps in the budgets between the top few teams and everyone else is way too big.”

“The gaps seem to be getting bigger. I think that’s something that Formula One is going to address. That’s probably where are biggest concern is, making sure we get a more level playing field so many teams can win races from ’21 onwards.”

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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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  • 13 comments on “McLaren expect more success and more sponsors post-Honda”

    1. Their sponsor problem dates back way longer than Honda. They lost Vodafone at the start of 2012 and didn’t get anywhere with a replacement even in a year where they were challenging for a title.

      1. Indeed. They want to throw a little bit of sand by having Total logos, I still don’t understand why Santander didn’t keep following Fernando, they only went to Ferrari because of nando. I don’t know really. That livery certainly didn’t help, having no sponsors gave them the possibility of having an orange livery but look at what they did, the indy livery was 100% better.

      2. They had an offer on the table by Johnnie Walker to replace Vodafone for 2014 onwards, but Dennis declined it.

    2. I’m certainly not responsible for the speed of the race car

      Surely someone at McLaren is responsible for the speed of the race car though, right?

    3. For the life of me I can’t understand how the Honda could have made such bad engines. Ok, they were away for the sport for a while, but they have had bigger periods of absence (1992-2000) and when they returned they were competitive, first with BAR and then with their own outfit. So it’s not like they have absolutely no experience in F1. Also, they have success in different periods and with different engines (turbo, V12, V10), so, again, it’s not like they aren’t adaptable to change.

      Lastly, naive as I may be, I like to believe that F1 is a sport that reunites some of the smartest people on the planet, and that good teams have hundreds of more capable engineers and personnel. So, what happened? Keith, do you plan on doing a post-mortem on the McLaren-Honda years? I feel like it would make for a great “behind the scenes” book.

      1. The Turbo-Hybrid era is a different level of competiotion than previous engine config, even Ferrari and Renault had their problems in 2014. Only Mercedes got it right since they are the one who started very early on development. It is very admirable that Honda even join this new Formula with so much odds against them.

        Then there is the size zero of Mclaren that forced Honda to make a very compact size engine to meet that BS size zero, then another BS from Mclaren particularly with Ron Dennis that prevented Honda to take another customer to speed up development. Then the constant blame that the problem is only the engine and the chassis and aero is perfect and a work of genius, adding the insult from Fernando at Honda’s home race and other ciruit didn’t help a bit.

        I’m actually glad they split, and hoping that Honda will get it right with STR and in 2018 when RBR is b*itch slapping Mclaren on the same engine, whose to blame then?

        1. Don’t forget the pig-headedness of Honda playing a huge part in choosing to NOT recruit expertise from the existing teams to boot strap their PU program. Ferrari recruited from Mercedes likewise Renault to both improve their PU programs for this formula – this is normal for F1, Honda didn’t and look where they are after three years…it is only this year they are taking outside consultancy under pressure from McLaren.

          For sure McLarens size zero concept was a limitation and restriction for Honda, however if Honda had built a functional, knowledgeable team including engineers from the other manufacturers they may have had the expertise to ‘push-back’. A complex story with Honda as the primary culprits and unlike Red Bull who have thrown Renault under the bus throughout this formula McLaren have been careful when talking about Honda in public.

          If the rumours are true Renault have had enough of Red Bull preferring McLaren as a customer team. I saw an interview yesterday with Cyril Abiteboul who referenced the marketing opportunities with McLaren as a partner. Compare this to RB where the Renault is now branded as a TAG. For sure Renault have underperformed so far, but it looks a lot like they have had enough of Red Bull as a customer,

      2. @fw11b

        with their own outfit


        would’ve probably happened if the 2008 financial crisis got delayed by a year or 2, but…..otherwise, no (OK it’s not that simple, but of all their 2000s years the ones with the clearest “Honda” identity were the worst, at least apart from 2006).

      3. Two words: Unlimited testing. Back in the late 90s if you wanted to develop your engine you just asked for an empty car and cram the thing right in, hire a driver and fire up the thing, all day, in any track. Honda began work on the modern V10 on late 1998, and it took until 2004 to be legitimately successful. Even back then the engines were the most powerful in the grid (better than BMW’s!) but tended to go out with a smokey bang (see Monaco 2004 for the best example, though there are many).

        IMO, regardless of what Honda does with STR, this move cannot possibly be worse. All Renault teams are doing fine. I expect McLaren back into regular points positions almost immediately. If Alonso’s inspired, podiums are possible. Later on, we’ll see.

      4. @fw11b, even as an engine supplier in the 2000s, Honda never really stood out. At best, you could say that on a good day, they were just as good as the next best manufacturer. They rejoined F1 the same year as BMW, but in their second year as returnees (2001) the German marque were already manufacturing the most powerful V10s in the sport; whereas Honda were just doing… okay. Even Toyota managed to compete with/best them (engine comparability, and eventually chassis when Honda bought BAR in 2006) despite being completely new to the sport.

        The only time Honda looked like front runners was in 2004; when BAR Honda was best of the rest behind Ferrari. Keep in mind, the team finished 2nd in the standings that year but failed to win a race, despite being in a good position to do so multiple times (McLaren, Renault and Williams all managed to win 1 GP that year). Although, I’d say that was more likely due to BAR’s dysfunction than Honda’s.

      5. @fw11b They didn’t leave f1, they kept going as mugen-honda. I don’t think you can compare the current formula to any other but the original turbo era. Like @rafael-o Honda was never the top engine as they were in the mid to late 90’s, at best they were 2nd, behind first Mercedes and then BMW, toyota had some good years, that is up until Mike Gascoyne told Luca Marmorini to make a super lightweight engine that not only wasn’t beneficial for the car’s performance but also led to a design that didn’t cope well at all with the engine freeze rules, toyota became one of the weakest engines and were suffering a lot with engine degradation.

    4. Maybe, if McLaren weren’t joint-owned by human rights abusing torturers, they would have more luck getting sponsors?

    5. “The reason you see the gaps in the field now is the gaps in the budgets between the top few teams and everyone else is way too big.”

      “The gaps seem to be getting bigger. I think that’s something that Formula One is going to address. That’s probably where are biggest concern is, making sure we get a more level playing field so many teams can win races from ’21 onwards.”

      Exactly. For some resason this site keeps harping on about a few tenths of millions more for the smaller teams from a more “equal” distribution of the FOM money, but the real difference is between budgets of around half a billion versus 100 to 150 million for the mid field teams (ie pretty much all teams apart from the 3 top teams).

      Giving those smaller teams 30 million extra is not going to level the competition. Only way is to cap the top budgets.

      Then we get the old piece of wisdom “but ya can’t regulate budgets. Teams will try to find ways to abuse the system”. Like that’s any different from the technical regulations. They don’t try to find loopholes there of course /s. Or like there are no tax systems in place where financial matters are kept in check. Also impossible of course. It’s just Ferrari spin because they don’t want this.

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