McLaren and Honda confirm they will split at end of 2017

2018 F1 season

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McLaren and engine supplier Honda will part ways at the end of the 2017 season, the team has confirmed.

McLaren executive director Zak Brown said “there has never been any doubt over Honda’s commitment and energy to the mission of success in Formula One” but “our partnership has not flourished as any of us would have wished.”

“It is certainly not for the want of effort on the part of either Honda or McLaren, but the time has come to move ahead in different directions.”

Honda president Takahiro Hachigo said: “It is unfortunate that we must part ways with McLaren before fulfilling our ambitions. However, we made the decision with a belief that this is the best course of action for each other’s future.”

“On behalf of Honda, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to fans who have been very supportive of the team as well as the drivers, team members and everyone involved who shared with us in the joys and disappointments since we began preparing for our return to F1 in 2015.”

“Honda will continue the fight together with McLaren all the way to the end of the 2017 season, and then continue its F1 racing activities in 2018 and beyond.”

The Japanese manufacturer returned to Formula One as an engine supplier at the beginning of 2015. However they have failed to achieve success in three seasons with McLaren, prompting speculation the two would split.

McLaren’s reunion with Honda at the end of 2014 re-formed a partnership which had been extremely successful in their five years together between 1988 and 1992. Together they took Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost to a combined four drivers’ championships and won the teams’ title four years running.

After leaving F1 at the end of 1992 Honda returned first as an engine supplier and then a works team between 2006 and 2008. The latter spell yielded a single victory in its first season followed by two very poor seasons. The groundwork for a successful 2009 campaign was laid but Honda weren’t around to realise it: they left F1 at the end of 2008.

Five years later Honda announced it would return to Formula One with McLaren in 2015, the second year of the sport’s new V6 hybrid turbo engine regulations. A frustrating season ended with McLaren ninth out of ten teams, but gains were made in 2016 and they moved up to sixth.

That progress has been spectacularly reversed so far in 2017. During pre-season testing it became clear the team was in serious trouble. Following an early run in the car Alonso told the media “we have no power and we have no reliability”.

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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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16 comments on “McLaren and Honda confirm they will split at end of 2017”

  1. Fernando, now is your time to show. You did this. Don’t let that Vandoorne kid out-perform you. Don’t even dare.

    On a serious note, If I was Honda I would completely go on development mode. But then again it would be funny for them to pull a spec Z and give McLaren the finger hmm…. but this is just guessing.

    1. Forget Alonso, he has a chance on championship only after 2021, not before that.

    2. If they have not done so for McLaren after 3 years, and apparently 1 billion $, why should anyone believe the story will be different for torro rosso. Mind you, they do say new beginnings………..

  2. I’m sure McLaren will remember the reasons for choosing Honda within the next few years.

    1. Please remind me when they do

  3. You get the feeling McLaren are being very reactionary. Honda will come good. Eventually. McLaren will regret this, I think.

    1. Not even you are sure Honda might come good. Your comment just confirms McLaren’s dilemma. Eventually, perhaps, maybe.

    2. So far there is no evidence to prove that Honda will come good. The last time Honda were in Formula 1, they spent close to 9 seasons without ever ‘coming good’.. and they finally quit. If anything it seems like they’ve got another 5 to 6 seasons of failure ahead of them before they drop out again.

  4. Also, Alonso’s driver power is extraordinary. He has created an image of Honda all by himself, after being the driving factor in McLaren and Honda getting together in the first place. It’s scary, really, what he manages to do just by reputation and damaging reputation.

    1. @hahostolze Can you argument this a bit? Are you suggesting the Honda’s reputation problem is all because of Alonso’s fault and there is nothing factual about it? What i personally found extraordinary is not Alonso’s reach, but the fact you can genuinly believe what you have just written…

    2. Which is why I don’t want him at Mercedes. Regardless with Lewis or with Valterri. Toto even made it clear that he won’t ever be in Mercedes. Ain’t wanting a self destruction at our Mercedes.

    3. @hahostolze, many here would say that Honda were more than capable of damaging their own reputation with their own statements about their engine.

      They were criticised by many here after their oil tank issues in pre-season testing, then there were the repeated admissions of major development issues throughout the year, including statements confirming that they had inaccurate single cylinder and dynamometer tests, major vibrational issues that were literally shaking the engine to pieces, repeated delays with the introduction of new components – they’ve effectively admitted to being at least six months behind schedule – and continuing problems with high fuel consumption, even if that has been partially resolved. That’s a lot of negative headlines which have been generated by Honda’s own statements and interviews, and in many ways far more damaging than anything Alonso has said given that some statements have made it look as if they are extremely poorly managed.

      Equally, whilst you say that Honda will “eventually” come good, how long would you be prepared to wait for “eventually” to come if you were the head of McLaren? It is three years now that we’ve heard people say that Honda will “eventually” come good, but the current powertrain regulations are due to expire in 2020.

      If Honda only manage to finally start becoming reasonably competitive by mid 2018 or 2019, that would give you, at best, two seasons where you might be able to compete for podiums or wins, and probably just one, before the regulations change. Furthermore, if Honda have been struggling for that long, would they even be prepared to stick around for the 2021 regulations (since your post relies on the assumption that Honda themselves don’t quit first)?

  5. I would think an team as McLaren would develop an engine themself as they have the knowhow. Never was an fan of Ron Dennis but he should made the engine himself with assistance with Honda.

  6. As a McLaren fan, despite the three seasons of poor performance and reliability I was hoping that McLaren would stick with Honda for another season at least, partly because I think it could be McLaren’s best bet for long term success and partly the fear that Honda would eventually come good but only after McLaren have ditched them so another team benefits from all the bad results McLaren have gone through.

    I think the biggest losers in all this could end up being McLaren while the main winners may well be Red Bull.

    McLaren’s reason for signing up with Honda was because Ron Dennis thought they would not win a championship with a customer engine deal, something I tend to agree with and I think it is just as valid now as it was then, if not more so.

    Winning a title with a customer engine deal is like a driver winning a title when not having one of the best cars on the grid, it is possible but not that likely.

    Whilst the Mercedes engine has been the class of the field under the current regulations no customer Mercedes team has managed to record a win during this period, when the works Mercedes team has had problems it has been Red Bull or Ferrari who have been there to take the victories.

    Also remember that in the first year with these hybrid turbo engines back in 2014, McLaren were still using Mercedes engines and they were not even the best Mercedes customer team that season, although it must be noted that it seems McLaren have now produced a more competitive chassis.

    The Renault engine might currently be better than the Honda but it is not up there with Mercedes and Ferrari and the Renault has also had a lot of reliability problems.

    McLaren should be more competitive next season, although I would have thought their designers would have preferred a decision regarding the engine to have been made earlier, if they produce a good chassis they could be fighting with Red Bull and with a driver like Alonso they may even get an occasional victory if the right circumstances occur, similar to what Red Bull have managed in the current hybrid turbo era.

    But McLaren will lose tens of millions in funding from Honda, have to pay for their engines, which all means less money available to be spent in other areas. They will then have to beat Red Bull and the works Renault team who will have the same engine, never mind the Mercedes and Ferrari teams who have better engines.

    Honda get to stay in F1 with Toro Rosso and develop their engine with a less high profile team and driver, so every failure or poor performance won’t be headline news, if Honda want to be in F1 for the long term then this option could work out for the best.

    Since if Honda do manage to get it right then no doubt Red Bull will start using the engine, giving Red Bull what they have wanted the last few years, a works engine deal and Honda will be with a team that should be able to fight for championships. Although recent rumours are saying that Renault will ditch Red Bull at the end of 2018 so Red Bull may be forced to use Honda engines whether they are competitive or not.

    Unless a new manufacturer comes in to F1, which will not be before the new set of regulation in 2021 at the earliest, this is the best Red Bull could hope for as they were not going to get a customer Mercedes or Ferrari engine deal.

    This is probably also the best outcome possible for Sainz, with Ricciardo and Verstappen at Red Bull there was no opening for him to be promoted from Toro Rosso to the senior team, the next time there is a seat available at Mercedes or Ferrari in 2019 I can’t see him being top of the list so a works Renault deal looks the best move available.

    The Renault team may still be struggling and currently being beat by Red Bull, their engine customer, but longer term you would think that won’t be the case, while you cannot guarantee which teams will be competitive in F1 in the future, Renault have a better chance than most of them.

    I remember back in 2012 when Hamilton decided to leave McLaren and sign for Mercedes, a lot of people were critical of his choice but at the time I could see a few reasons why he made the move. Primarily the fact that although McLaren had been more competitive than the works Mercedes team before that, I thought there was more chance of Mercedes winning titles going forward than McLaren, which is what actually happened.

    Although Honda do not look close to solving their problems at the moment and indeed might never manage to do so, while McLaren may win races over the next few years as a Renault customer, I think it is more likely that they would win titles as the works Honda team than with a customer Renault deal.

    If Honda do sort things out then we could see Red Bull Honda challenging for a title before McLaren.

    I saw a report that McLaren would consider making their own engine when the next set of engine rules start if costs come down, I think that is unlikely but it may turn out to be their best bet for long term success.

    If you agree that a team needs a works deal to stand a realistic chance of fighting for titles then McLaren’s only option would be to try and attract a new manufacturer to F1 in time for the next set of engine regulations in 2021, considering the development time any manufacturer would like having seen what happened with Honda they would probably want to start next year at the latest.

    There always seems to be talk of Porsche or another part of the VW group potentially coming to F1 but if they did decide to be only an engine supplier and not have a full team, would they want to join up with McLaren considering they are in competition with McLaren in the road car business?

    If any car manufacturer wanted to link up with an established F1 team then others such as Williams may be more attractive because of McLaren’s road car division, unless of course they took a stake in the whole company.

    Finally, given that that Alonso does not have a good reputation when it comes to making career decisions, and there have been rumours that Alonso told McLaren it was either him or Honda, I fully expect Honda to come good and produce a top engine after they split with McLaren and Alonso.

  7. Not surprised anymore, LOL. This was more or less inevitable since last weekend.

  8. i think the problem was Honda made a mistake in completely changing the engine concept this year.
    The first year they were poor, last year they showed a decent improvement and had they continued with developing that concept they would have shown some more improvement ( maybe even matched Renault, who lets face are still far behind Mercedes and Ferrari).
    Instead Honda basically threw away 2/3 years worth of development and started again, hence they have gone backwards!

    McLaren going to Renault is a poor move in my opinion, as Renault have been working on the hybrid concept since day 1 and are still struggling. Red Bull are competitive on some circuits, but lets face it, most of that is down to the GENIUS of Adrian Newey!!

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