McLaren Honda F1 crisis: What would you do next in McLaren’s shoes?
McLaren Honda F1
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Mar 2017   |  4:40 pm GMT  |  534 comments

There are increasing signs that McLaren Honda’s reliability and performance issues, which came to light in winter testing, are much more severe than at first realised and that it is time for some serious decisions to be made.

One option being considered is a switch of engine supplier – but what does that entail?

We have the answers below.

As well as simply getting a car to run quickly and without breaking down, there are many broader factors at play here in any decision on McLaren’s strategy, such as finance, engineering resource and long-term plan.

And there is also the question of Fernando Alonso. He has made it clear that he plans to stay in F1 beyond the end of 2017, he does not want his career to end on a down note, so McLaren’s Eric Boullier has told a leading Spanish media outlet that McLaren has to consider what steps to take to ensure it can keep him beyond the end of his current contract.

“I think Fernando is being honest with us, just as we’re being honest with him. He first wanted to see how the new car was. And how the new regulations are. And I think he likes the new F1. He wants to be competitive because he has talent to show the world and to himself,” the Frenchman told AS.

“And we need to be competitive to keep him happy. If we’re competitive he’ll be happy and if not he’ll take his own decisions…”


So what would you do in McLaren’s shoes?

There are three options:
1. Stick with Honda while they resolve their problems, but insist on a plan involving external assistance to ensure that they get a competitive product going forward.
Advantages: Continuity of $60m a year plus free engines, contribution to drivers salaries, stability, manufacturer support.
Disadvantage: 2017 campaign virtually a right-off, Alonso likely to leave, hard to sell sponsorship for 2018 against low level competitiveness and a negative story.

2. Activate a break clause at the end of 2017 or urge Honda to withdraw and appeal to the other manufacturers for a supply from 2018 onwards
Advantages: Continuity of funding, especially if Honda withdraws and pays-off the team, as it did with Brawn in 2008/9, time to develop a competitive 2018 package
Disadvantages: 2017 season a write-off, low points. Alonso may well look elsewhere.

3. Break with Honda and re-engineer the 2017 car around a new power unit
Advantages: Team would be likely to compete higher midfield from Spain onwards (after starting the season with Honda) and would probably score somewhere up to 100 points, better chance of retaining Alonso, better chance of selling sponsorship for 2018
Disadvantages: Huge engineering exercise requiring two months to optimise, expense and loss of financial support unless they leave funding as in clause 2, embarrassment for Honda, would expose any weaknesses in McLaren chassis. This could lead to Honda taking the rest of the year to develop the engine outside and come back in 2018 or withdraw from F1 if they feel they will not be able to get on top of F1 hybrid engine technology.

Either option 2 or 3 would be controversial, but it’s clear that something has gone fundamentally wrong in the trust and communication between McLaren and Honda and they cannot be ruled out.

Hasegawa Honda F1

At the launch of the MCL32, Honda’s Yusuke Hasegawa said that the 2017 Honda unit would be on the same level as the 2016 Mercedes.

“We have modified our engine with a much lower centre of gravity and lighter weight. However, it means we have a great challenge for the development, so I am very proud our team members have made a great job for this season. Of course we are not making any promises for this season, but our aim is to make the progress and catch up the frontrunners so that we keep pushing to make more progress.

“I don’t know how much gain Mercedes is hoping to make. But of course we are aiming to achieve the top level of the PU, which is Mercedes at this moment, but we don’t know how much power they are making now. But I am feeling that we are not behind from them (from start of 2016), but I think we will catch up with them at the beginning of the season.”

Given the reality as it was exposed in Barcelona testing from the outset, that it wasn’t even going to on the level Honda was at in 2016, it appears that Hasegawa wasn’t in possession of the full facts from his engineers in Japan about the engine and neither were the engineering staff at McLaren who liaise with Honda.

Trust is such a strange thing in an F1 team; it’s tough between team mates sometimes as we have seen with Vettel/ Webber and more recently Hamilton/Rosberg. But between a team and its engine partner it is fundamental.

So there will be some tough and frank conversations going on now about what happens next and it will be fascinating to see which way the partnership goes.

If they go for Option 2 or the ‘nuclear’ Option 3 then the team needs to adapt to a customer engine from one of the other manufacturers. The new rules say that one of the other manufacturers must supply them.

While McLaren and Ferrari have always been culturally estranged, Ferrari is well equipped to supply a new team having dropped Toro Rosso from its roster. They have enough people to staff that. Likewise Mercedes, after losing Manor from its customer roster.

Renault do not have as many people on staff, having gone from two supplies to three for 2017.

As for the engineering, although the rules say that the main mounting points have to be standard, it’s far more complex than that. Brawn famously engineered its 2009 car at late notice around a Mercedes engine and more recently Toro Rosso had a very late call to switch to Ferrari engines.

Honda F1 engine

So here is what it takes to switch F1 engines.

Phase 1. Answer the big general questions: What are the heat rejection figures? How are the oil and water cooled and where do the pipes go? What is the cooling layout? Are there areas in the sidepods that need re-allocating? How does the rear suspension fit with the new engine? How does it connect to the gearbox?

Phase 2. Answer the physical questions: Where are the drives, the pump drives, the shafts coming out of the engine to the fuel pump, the ERS drive? Sometimes things are built into the back of the chassis, moulded around the oil tank design for example and if they are well out with the new unit it could mean a new chassis design. This could also mean having to re-homologate the chassis with the FIA and repass crash tests.

Phase 3. Electronics: The control unit for the battery can be placed quite differently for different power units. Some place them above the battery. The battery is around 30cm x 30cm with a depth of around 120mm and is located underneath the fuel tank, just behind the driver. Moving its control unit could be a real pain.

Phase 4. Finer details: How do the wiring looms run? Everything is as tightly packaged as possible under the skin of an F1 car and modifications can require revisions to the bodywork and that means valuable wind tunnel time. Gear ratios are another key consideration. They are set for the season based on power and torque numbers. But a new engine will have different numbers and this may require new ratios. Some take 10 weeks, others 4 weeks and are fabricated by outside suppliers.

In the case of McLaren going for Option 3 ideally you would like to have a month to do the redesign and manufacturing and another month to test it on a chassis dyno rig. But manufacturers are sensitive about rival manufacturer’s staff being around when these things are tested.

Fernando Alonso

A new F1 car typically gets around 4,000km of testing at Barcelona before the season starts. So from the point at which you started running your new engine in the chassis, you’d have to allow at least that much running with the new package before you were confident of reliability.

That’s around 800 laps of a typical F1 circuit and would mean that the first four races after you relaunched would be challenging. So if you went for a change now, you’d be looking at racing from Spain onwards and then around Baku in June you would have a settled package. So that leaves 12 races to make the most of it. It’s a massive undertaking and a massive headache, especially during the season.

But they have a headache already. So what is the answer?

So what would you do in the circumstances? Leave your comments in the section below

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No, Sorry. You started, you must finish. No exit for McLaren or Alonso. Honda here to stay.
LOL (apologies Mac fans)
Seriously though, when will the true story of how this mess came about emerge?
It can't be all down to just Honda failing with the PU??


Amazing fact: TAG McLaren Int. have won just one constructors cup in the last 20 years...........................

Amazing fact 2: Honda have just a single victory in the last 20 years..............

Both McLaren and Honda are ambitious but rubbish..............


I think it's a case of honda building the engine behind closed doors and refusing any assistance. I feel sorry for mclaren


Yeah a dyno on just the motor can be deceiving. Having a chassis connected helps so why didn't Honda bring some of their guy to the UK to do just that before testing? If Honda decides to work together maybe keep them. If not cut out now.


Actually, besides that being a good point, McLaren do have a share of blame because Honda wanted to add a 2nd team, and McLaren wouldn't let them. They could have had at least twice as many cars running (more if a 3rd team was added), and at least Toro Rosso last year could have run their engines. They would have had a lot more data to work with. As it stands, McLaren alone provides Honda with data and that is clearly a handicap.


Good point on McLaren being the reason Honda doesn't now supply someone else but they need guys in the UK or it can't work.


Simple if Honda doesn't work this year they have to have a Mercedes engine and maybe have a close look at that Ferrari chassis too for 2018.

Honda just can't do it outside the UK.

Rob in Victoria BC

Hard to believe that a certain website wrote this on Feb. 26th 2017: ' There is inevitably a lack of refinement compared to Mercedes, because they are still playing catch up, but any slip ups from Ferrari and McLaren will be there.'


"Seriously though, when will the true story of how this mess came about emerge?
It can't be all down to just Honda failing with the PU??"

It certainly didnt help the development cause at all when Ron enacted his veto of them supplying engines to any other teams when Redbull was looking for an engine at the end of 2015. That would have been 2 teams and 4 additional cars running their engines every weekend, which is effectively the same amount of mileage in one year that they have gotten in 3 so far. A bit shortsighted if you ask me, and now they are paying the price for that.


@ Phil Glass, spot on Phil one feels it has as much to do as with Honda, it called Management, Management and its with McLaren side of things, you may call old fox Ron Dennis what ever, but one thing is for certain Ron Dennis is a Old money solid as a rock in motor industry and in particular F1. Oust him was a big mistake.


Yeah Ron is not there anymore most likely because of this. Hondas engine people need to work close with McLaren not in Japan. That can't work.


you lost me there. ron was there for most of the development of that engine.. surely if anything, it's him dropping the ball in keeping an eye on honda?


The risks of Honda staying with McLaren are far higher than if they switch engine supplier. Staying with Honda carries extinction level risk. There are simply no guarantees Honda can catch up (whereas Mercedes engines are best in class, proven race-winners). And as the article rightly points out, not only will they lose their star driver, they will lose sponsorship and will likely end up a doomed, lower midfield team, running two drivers, potentially one Japanese, years away from sustained success in the sport. Ultimately, who knows, McLaren may have to leave the sport altogether to rehabilitate their brand via an alternative Formula, such as E, where McLaren Applied already supply the batteries. By ditching Honda, they can plug-in a new engine (ok not THAT easy!) turn a page, and continue the fight. Again, as the article points out, this is as much about a cultural disconnect as it is engineering excellence - and cultural change can take years to secure. First of all Honda have to admit that they need to change. I just don't see that happening. It certainly hasn't happened yet. McLaren F1 Racing do not have the time or necessarily the corporate expertise to engender massive cultural change in a global car manufacturer based thousands of miles away. They have to pull the trigger, they have to leave, because they're risking everything by staying.


Why don't McLaren build their own engine they do it for the 605s road car so why not F1 cars


McLaren Technology. Road cars as well as other projects. Who will want to use the technology or buy a $Million+ USD car from a company that has failed so miserably in F1, where tech is king?
Honda has had 4 years to develop an engine. Even a "do-over" and the lump is junk. They insisted on using only Honda people, to do it the Honda Way. Honda said it pushed the boundaries and introduced new concepts on their engine taking big chances in the process. The new engine is worse than the old! Unbelievable! Why didn't they find the problems on the test rigs? It's beyond belief.
I don't see how you can put the blame on anyone but Honda.


makes you wonder why they don't build their own engines


I blame the Japanese corporate we know best attitude.

I also blame Fernando Alonso's beard. Men with beards = problems. That's why Maggie never had any men with facial fuzz.

Japanese corporate culture + beards = big issues.


Alonso's beard is good meter for how comfortable he feels. The more uncomfortable he feels = longer & messy beard


@ Phil Glass...why can't it all be down to Honda?


Agreed Phil, all that is clear is that more time is needed. It would be too soon to break with Honda and it wouldn't be good for either McLaren or F1. I believe that Honda will get it right sooner rather than later. I have stopped paying attention to the daily reports of doom that are clearly designed to fill space with manufactured controversy. I believe that they are only going through teething problems and clever people build strong bonds during the tought times and dominate in the the good times. Honda are being presented as some back alley opperation that cannot build an engine when that is far from the truth. They had a problem with vibration in testing but if they hadn't had that problem they may well have been on the pace of the others.


Over on this side of the pond "manufactured controversy" has become known as 'more fake news' . . . But that only reflects the wisdom of the 1800's -- which was 'controversy sells newspapers. Some things never change, eh?


Soone than later? It already is later. 3 years is plenty later.


Break with Honda is not good for McLaren of F1 you say?

Is it good for Honda to stay in F1? How has this F1 adventure worked out for Honda brand so far? How much money have they spend for the pleasure to have the Honda brand damaged with this complex PU formula?


@ Bob D....Honda is a huge company and is active in many motorsports not least Indycar. They have been at it now for three years and they are still floundering!! How long do you expect the team to wallow in insignificance before they do the sensible thing. They need to draw a line in the sand and say something've got four races to prove that you actually know what you're doing otherwise it's 'goodnight Irene'. Dramatic but necessary. IMHO.


with that kind of attitude most of the grid would be gone already, i seem to recall a certain red team not winning a championship for some 27yrs but they r still around...


4 years. They started a year before they entered F1.


Alonso is not stuck where he is.
He likely has a performance clause.
What will it do for Alonso's stock for him to stay at the back of the grid for 2017.
Even in a best case scenario, McLaren are not going to be anything close to a contender this year; maybe they'll get up to fighting amongst the mid-pack, but anything beyond that is just not reasonable.
He may be hoping for the Merc drive next year, but the competition will be stiff, and they may stick with what they have, and/or not be on top any more?!
While Honda will be on the hook for a lot of Alonso's ¥¥¥, it would probably be less if he didn;t race this year.

Why not get a drive with a potential series winning Porsche in WEC?
The prestige of an Alonso signing would be good for Porsche too (assuming of course that Alonso can post top-tier competitve times, a la Mark Webber).

With that on yoru trophie rack, Alonso could take a fresh look at the top teams and see what he can get.


I just can't believe McLaren could ditch Honda. That would mean that they would never (or at least very long time) work with each other again in F1. Japanese are very honourable and believe me they are working their ass off like 24/7 with no sleep, to make the engine work. I feel so sad for both McLaren and Honda. Since there are no japanese drivers at the moment i think it is important to have at least Japanese motor manufacter included. There is over 100 000 000 people living in Japan.

Let's give them a chance! Trust me if you give them your trust they will make everything to make it worth it.

If they decide to ditch Honda, at least should go find a Japanese driver.... I just have a special place for Japanese in my heart.


Not quite so honourable in Burma on a certain railroad some decades ago ... And let's be honest, when they got it together last time (BAR) it took them 4 years but they were getting better each year, not worse.


I agree totally, I think they will get it right and it's better to work with Honda on sorting out issues.
I drove the new Civic yesterday with the 1.0 litre petrol engine, really impressed so Honda can and do build great engines


" I think they will get it right"

By the third millennial?


I am in Australia and 18 months ago purchased Honda baby four stroke outboard. It was rubbish, firstly, kick back was so violent that it ripped the pull cord out of your hand consistently. My wife refused to start it, after a couple of minutes it would overheat, detonate, loose power. They are air cooled and in my opinion based on my profession, motor mechanic, were run too lean for emission passage. Selling Honda dealer claimed he could not fault it, while other Honda dealer admitted fault existed. Six months of legal action finally I won case and received refund. All this time Honda Australia kept saying go back to the deale. I have the paper work to back up this claim. I will never buy another Honda product!




Even if Mclaren switch to other engine supplier they will struggle to redesign the car and ditching is professionally its was Honda Responsibility to provide with reliable engine one can understand if its not as good as Merc or Ferrari but it should have been reliable its more than 3 years now. I also think Honda miss the trick what they should have bought Manor team like Renault this would have gave them better understanding of Engine .I am very sure Honda have lot money to buy a F1 team.


Although admirable,sentiment havsno place in a cutthroat business like F1.


Nice good touchy feely thoughts

But if this was my business I'd have said goodbye long ago.

If tough decisions are not made now, tougher ones have to be made later.


True. Actually that would apply to relationships of any kind.


Emotions don't count in F1. One has to accept as fact that if Honda was capable of sorting this out without seeking outside assistance (buying knowledge from other manufacturers by poaching their staff), they really should have done this by now - especially this year when they had the freedom to change the engine in whatever way they wanted. Effort alone (and there is no doubt the workers in Japan are putting in lots) is not sufficient to deliver. They need talent and knowledge, both of which are clearly lacking at Honda.


Yes, yes, yes. I know I would be a terrible manager for any sport. I'm happy being just a emotional F1 fan. I'll just stay with the music..


And maybe they (Honda) ended up having these problems becouse they were trying even too hard. I mean if they came up with some too fancy and ambitious ideas and got lost on their way..


This article looks at it from McLaren's point of view and makes it seem like Honda is at McLaren's mercy. I don't think that's true at all.

I personally don't hold Honda fully responsible here. I hold these overly complex PU regulations responsible. Honda had good intentions and allocated the resources they thought would be sufficient. This turned out to be not enough because this PU formula is such a pain in the rear and so complex and expensive. Wasn't the word start of 2014 season that 1 BILLION was spend on the PUs by the 3 manufacturers? Honda has shown all other manufacturers out there what a cluster this whole PU business is in F1. Caution to anyone else even thinking about playing in F1 with this formula. And even if you play what are you hopes of beating Mercedes who's been working on PUs for a decade now? And now it's not even the PUs that seem to be difference makers but suspension. So much for value for that 1B spent.

Mercedes steered the rules and started work on PUs 7 years before they lined up on the grid. Laura confirmed Mercedes started work on PU in 2007 - on record. Renault worked on it for some time too I'm sure. We all saw how much fun 2014 was. Previous CEO of Honda committed Honda to this F1 adventure. This new one I think will pull Honda out.

I see no shame here at all in giving up. This PU formula is not road relevant. Acura NSX is not a car showcasing what Honda can do. Honda Civic shows customers what Honda can do. I see no issue in Honda declaring this adventure a mistake, pulling out and leaving this PU formula to stew. Honestly, I wouldn't hold it against them one tiny bit.

Final note, President Trump just reopened the EPA review for of fuel milage targets basically ensuring the 2025 54MPG targets will be relaxed - which doesn't matter because by 2025 Electric Cars will be gobbling up market share like Mc. PacMan. In the mean time, hybrid squeeze continues as the world is awash in oil and oil prices drop 10%.


Yes, the engines are complex and if every manufacturer was struggling and we had a grid where most of the cars failed to do the race every GP, then I'd agree the engine concept is a disaster. But the others have cracked it, so it's inexcusable for Honda to be in the position they're in after 3 years. I'm sure enough money is there so to me it displays ineffective working practices and possibly culture too.

I'm an engineer and love the fact these engines are a technological challenge. Honda's plight makes me doff my cap to Mercedes then more so!

There are problems of course: the lack of noise and the engines are too costly, but I love the technology of these engines. Even if not directly road relevant, it's forward thinking technology, which I'm in favour of. Part of F1 is about humans solving new and difficult challenges.


Excellent summary ... I feel sorry for Honda and McLaren but this situation just more clearly demonstrates the fundamental problem with the cost of PU in F1. How many teams do we have to lose, how long do current teams have to struggle with the exorbitant costs of these hybrid PU. I'm in Australia and have worked most of my life in vehicle dealerships. Our doors would be closed next week if we had to rely on the sale of hybrid powered cars. It has not gone unnoticed with our more astute clients that hybrid power is expensive, and the current state of F1 clearly drives this point home with a sledge hammer. Refined petrol engines (Mazda is doing a great job here) and Diesels are what walk out the doors and keep everybody employed with food on the table.

I do feel really sorry for Honda, they make great cars. But as has been stated, the past draconian FIA rules have forced Honda to develop these ridiculously complex and brutally expensive PU on the world stage. Personally, I have never understood why Honda ever considered returning to F1. They do a great job with Indy Cars in the USA and the marketing exposure for Honda would come at a fraction of the cost of this involvement in F1 in the worlds largest market.

If Mercedes want to rule the world with hybrid, then move over to the WEC and LMP1 where hybrid technology is well accepted. Don't stay in F1 and turn it into an Americas Cup farcical then pack up your bucket and spade and move on, which it what I see for the future of F1.

Very sad not only for Honda and McLaren, but also for what was my favourite form of motor sport.


What are you insinuating? I'm intrigued. I think they should go for option 3. Honda had plenty of time to make progress at least. I can't see any.


I don't understand why Honda didn't shove their PU into the 2015 McLaren F1 chassis to test it for reliability and power.

To say, "well it worked beautifully when we put it through the dyno" is just ridiculous!!! Yes, there is a testing ban, but it doesn't mean you can test the engine in an older chassis, using standard tyres and standard aero.

Mind you, you would need 2 cars, one with the 2016 PU and one with the 2017 PU so you can gauge progress from last year. Common sense really!


It would be a huge undertaking, and i appreciate you high lighting the work involved in fitting another engine... but surely Macca have already had this in the back of their minds since day 2 of the 1st test.
Isn't there enough staff that have moved from other teams to know where the battery packs are located etc?
Come on Zak, grow a pair and make the big move...
Alonso is going to "retire for family reasons" after a couple of DNF's, so swap him with Renault for engines and call J3nson back.


Honda do not even think the car will finish the Australian GP so not a great start to 2017


Option 3 there destroying this team


McLaren is partly responsible by preventing Honda to supply another team in 2015/16/17.
A second team could have helped Honda to get a reliable Power Unit.


The other teams must be thanking their lucky stars for that decision.


Wasn't that a 'Ron decision' suspect he thought they had cut a fast one and wanted to keep the marbles to himself, perhaps?


You mean red bull? 😂😂😂


Interesting you should mention them: if the Mac honda partnership is heading for splitsville, would the other engine manufacturers deny supply the same they did to RBR?

Thats the other thing that sucks with this current 1.4 V6 formula: you needed to get it right from the outset or you'll never catch up.


100% agreed - McLaren have to shed the "Ron Dennis Personality" and the sense of "privilege".


Who wanted the engines? I'm not being factious but a team would have to paI'd to run those engines.


@aelfwald: I guess Sauber or Manor would have accepted engines for free...


Good point. More data and feedback would help.


You are absolutely correct. To spread R&R over two teams would have made fault-finding a much faster process.


You seem to forget that this is a brand new engine with totally revised architecture. Any benefits from previous engines would be worth Zippedy doo Dah.


I don't think fault finding is the issue 😂


Plus the annoyance of taking 14 engines to Barcelona to test and break😉


How the second team would have helped Honda to deliver what it has at least initially promised? The main problem is that Honda again lives in their own world - like we here stories now it used to be with Jordan and Mugen-Honda - and don't listen to outsiders or McLaren themselves


Just a couple of examples of how that would have helped are:
1. Given the negligible testing allowance in today's F1, multiplying the amount of data Honda has had at its disposal to use as input into the design process
2. The number of different PU failures that have been identified would have been spread across different teams thereby reducing the time taken to find faults and reducing the embarrassment suffered by McLaren as a result of suffering all those failures themselves.


Reliability wasn't their problem by the end of 2016... they realized they'd never reach MB total output with their zero concept engine + existing energy recovery systems so had to embark on a new route. Already a massive stand-down! Our Japanese concept wasn't good enough and now we have to copy the stupid Europeans!


Who is looking stuped now? Honda or the "stupid europeans"? Lol!


The "stupid" europeans are the best engine makers in F1. Honda had plenty of time to develop a stable engine, yet they failed. There is no reason for McLaren to stick with them.


Exactly. It's that lack of outside influence that holds Honda back. And it's exactly that kind of attitude that enabled European and US carmakers to catch up and overtake Japanese in the last decade-and-a-half...


This is the reason Toyota never succeeded in F1 too.


If i were the decission maker, i would take the help from any engine suplier like ilmor eng. And go ahead with the own power unit. As whatever Happen it is clear they cant win eather 2017 or 2018 so better to let go Alonso and mannage future.


And who will finance the new engine facilities, R&D, manufacture, etc...?


Well a team with a budget of McLaren, stay as a lower midfield even we should say back of the grid forb3 years. They are loosing much more money with Honda.


@neo_manoj... The Mercedes spend on developing the PU's has been estimated at $500m+ over its lifecycle. Regardless of what the McLaren budget is, they would have to conjur up an extra half a billion dollars over three years to pay for this... with no guarantee of results.

If you were on the McLaren BoD, what would you do?


Probably hard nut to crack! Do u think, they will ever win with Mercedes or ferrari work team by using their engine? To me its next to imposible


Ditch honda now. Get a mercedes engine and build a new car. Much less painful than being eliminated in q1 every other weekend and the blowing up on Sunday.
At least that way the team would finally be able to see how good their chassis is as there would be no more excuses about power.
I don't see how it is safe to go racing with about 150 -200 bhp deficit and 30kph on the straights. They will probably end up outside the 107% rule.
Get a mercedes in the back and get alonso on the podium.
How On Earth can Mr Brown attract new sponsors if they are not qualifying for races and can't do more than 10 laps at a time.
I'm a long time mclaren fan and drive past their hq every week. How did it come to this. Mclaren should be at the front.


McLaren's self-proclaimed entitlement to the front of the grid stems from history. Cooper, Lotus, Tyrrell, and Brabham all had that pedigree as well. See also Williams, albeit they are still fighting. All were innovative teams that dominated a given period. All got caught out as the sport changed around them, on technical, sporting, or commercial grounds. It seems to me that McLaren has been in that same kind of haze for some time now, repeatedly (and impatiently) lunging for progress through The Big Shake Up.

Remember, McLaren is on it's FOURTH major management shakeup since 2007 (RD, MW, RD, ZB). In retrospect Ron Dennis' boardroom coups, ushering Martin Whitmarsh aside and roping up with Honda, seems to be a symptom of desperation to maintain the grandee image in the face of ever-increasing has-been status. Dennis' infamous refusal to lower advertising rates surely counts as holding on to old ways in the face of new commercial reality.

McLaren finds itself at this point not merely because the Honda Way isn't "F1 enough," but because "the McLaren Way" (i.e., relentlessly developing the chassis throughout the season) isn't uniquely theirs anymore, and (rather like when Ferrari, Lotus and BRM eclipsed Cooper's rear-engined chassis after 1960) others do it better. That's the new normal. But busting up with Honda, lurching toward another Big Fix, will at best be running to stand still.

I think they need to take their lumps this season rather than going through another big change. Lost in all the handwringing? Manor's departure guarantees that even if McLaren finishes last in the WCC, they will earn prize money in addition to the "heritage" payments. Let me repeat that: They will make money even if they finish last.

Stick with it.


There's a snowballs chance in hell of Merc supplying Mclaren with a current spec engine. They will more likely say "oh dear, we seem to be short on 2017 supply, tell you what though, we've got some great little 2016 units we've just listed on could bid on those"


I'm not so sure. With Manor's decline they and Ferrari do have spare capacity as James pointed out.


Compared to the Honda engine Mclaren are running right now, the 2016 Mercedes engine is a far better option. I would not hesitate a millisecond to go for the swap.


They were saying on a sky F1 program that the engine just can't handle the vibrations from being bumped about on a track. On a perfectly stable test rig it probably ran fine.


How ironic! The Japanese, masters of vibration damping in buildings, cannot build a properly vibration-damped car engine. The test rig is probably situated in a state of the art earthquake-proof factory.


The turbo shaft has to spin at 120,000 rmp - slightlly faster that most buildings. Harmonic vibration and high speed bearings are well understood and it probably works on the Honda dyno but one assumes not when you start bouncing it around on a race track and if all goes pete tong. How do you fix in a few weeks what it reportedly took Mercedes over a year to do? You either go through a similar research process or somehow find out what Mercedes discovered. Maybe they patented it so I would start there!


McLaren run their car famously stiff. It's often been commented on how it bounces over the kerbs rather than riding them like the RB. So that could be part of the problem. As has been mentioned. The engine would have done tens of thousands of miles on the bench without major issue.


So all they need is to get Tilke to resurface all the tracks to supersmooth and crank it to 100% 😉


Interesting information. Some major miscalculations they may have made. Maybe they should find a perfectly unstable test rig for future development.


I dont think even Honda have run their engine at 100% yet. My guess is they might be down about 80 to 100 bhp not more. But since they havent been able to run without issues we havent seen their true deficit to Mercedes or Ferrari. On the bright side without the token system honda maybe able to claw back some of the deficit before the end of the season. But it really needs to bring in some external engineers especially who have worked on either the Mercedes or Ferrari PUs.

Your assertion that running a mercedes engine would get them on the podium might also wrong. They ran a Mercedes engine in 2014. They werent exactly winning races or on the podiums. Last year they claimed they had the 3rd best chassis behind Redbull and Mercedes and also claimed that they would beat Ferrari at Monaco. Neither did they do that nor did they impress at any of the wet races where power deficit isnt that important. And so far testing has shown a very nervous Mclaren. I mean think about it. With a power deficit the car should be more compliant because you arent pushing 100% yet they car seemed to be very nervous and kept losing traction. Infact it dint seemed to be as balanced and planted as the Mercedes or Ferrari.

I think they made a mistake by firing Jost Capito, They should have just gotten rid of Eric Boullier instead. Either way it wouldnt change the mess they are in


You have nailed the point re the McLaren 'super' chassis they have been constantly been referring to since the beginning of 2015.

'We will beat Ferrari at Monaco'.

Pretty sure they said something similar about Singapore. I mean seriously??

Shouldn't they have been amazing at Brazil last season if the chassis is such a masterpiece? Surely the power deficit would actually benefit them in those conditions.... Less twist under your right boot. Negative.


Please stop blaming Eric, he is given the team to run but does not make the big decisions. Do you think he decided to go with Honda? Do you think he has any control over Honda engine design in Japan? Give the guy a break, the board makes those decisions. You can have the best football manager but if the owners tell you this is the team you get to manage what hope do you have.


I heard that they were down by 45 HP to their own engine from Abu Dhabi last year!!!

It's just unbelievable, how much of a disaster this has turned out to be.


What a mess this has become! A comment I remember posting just under 2yrs ago with an optimistic view that by now this package would have become reasonably competitive. Just over a week to the start of 2017 season and I cannot believe what I am reading!

Caught up in the nostalgia of a Mclaren/Honda package of another era I guess.

As for Alonso well his career is starting to resemble the likes of Emo and JV.


I'm not sure Boullier's really at fault, here. The problems appear to lie above his pay grade. Capito's firing was all politics, I believe. It's hard to see how it would've worked for him post-Ron.


FYI - 80-100bhp is a difference of night and day in F1 terms.


Besides power numbers there is drivability and Boullier has mentioned few times that was a big issue in Barcelona. Lack of drivability is what makes car look nervous. Actually Honda has been behind its rivals in terms of drivability since their return - only in the second part of last season things were smoother.
Imagine taking a small 1.6 liter engine hot hatch and attaching big turbo onto it (not talking about hybrid part here at all) - if you can control boost as you want how can you make car drivable?

Fernando 150% Alonso

Maybe the car is also nervous because despite the lack of power, the engine is maybe delivering the power in such a manner that the car is difficult to drive :-S Just guessing


If it's down on power it stands to reason it would also be down on grip in a lot of corners at an aero circuit like CdC. It's hard to be sure, though. The MP4-31 was thought to be quite a good chassis undermined by a weak engine, but the MP4-30 was poor all round.


150 to 200 Bhp doesnt correspond to a deficit of only 30Kph on the straights.


The 16 honda engine rumoured to be about 80 bhp down on merc 16.
Say merc found 40bhp over winter.
That's 120bhp.
During testing 17 honda engine was 50 bhp down on 16 honda.
So anywhere between 150bhp and 200bhp down. Granted merc weren't running there engines anywhere near the limit.


The Knutt family motto is "aim for mediocrity- it's easier to achieve your goals".
Seems like Honda did the same by aiming to match last year's Merc engine. What clown thought that Merc wouldn't improve?


Some say Mercedes have found up to 75bhp during winter


No, it will be max 30-35


How much did Ferrari find over the winter months?


Can mclaren not put last years engine in the cAr until reliability is sorted?


i think they're all at the bottom of Tokyo Bay stopping boats from drifting.


Speaking of Merc, James do you know anything about this supposed reliability issue they had in testing?


I know it didn't stop them covering over 5,000 km with works team alone


On top of the 50bhp they had on tge next best - Ferrari, even in detuned post Malaysian GP Mercedes could still outqualify them by half a second - that is an awful lot. And the last 3 weeks thrown away by Honda, Mercedes learned something new each and every lap, 150+ a day.


Any reports on whether Ferrari are similar to Mercedes now?


It is clear that McLaren is a team in deep crisis. The fact that their overtures to other engine suppliers are not a secret shows their level of desperation. All the options listed in this article seem to have more disadvantages than advantages, certainly over the next 1-2 seasons.
Ron Dennis' gamble has not paid off and there does not seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel. I think the leadership in both McLaren and Honda has been very weak. There have been many excuses given for Honda's lack of progress but Renault and Ferrari have both shown that it is possible to make big advances with power unit performance.
It would be sad if McLaren's final decision on engine supplier were to be based on keeping Alonso happy. Yes he is a great driver but he could be replaced with any one of several very good drivers. On the other hand, making the wrong choice on technology could have far worse consequences for McLaren.


You have identified the real issue here - leadership. Not necessarily a failure of leadership but perhaps more of a lack of understanding on how to lead 2 very culturally different organisations, from 2 very different national cultures, through a complex transition under tremendous scrutiny. I am a commissioned officer in the RAF & spend a lot of my time deployed working in coalitions, which offer many advantages but also significant constraints. It is easy for senior leadership to focus solely on the mission to the detriment of the soft skills required to fully develop & integrate a team. Just because the mission is well articulated (win the war or win a championship) it doesn't mean everyone is pulling in the same direction. That's often not down to wilful divergence but more a reflection of people trying to do their best under pressure in a dynamic & sometimes ambiguous circumstances. Technical leadership is no doubt very strong at McLaren & Honda but I would be interested in seeing how strong the inspirational & people-centred leadership is. Sometimes focussing so much on the task is detrimental to the long-term potential of the individuals & the team.


@J...Yes, you have indentified some of the potential problems but i beg to differ on the 'focus of outcomes'. Many many years ago i was deeply involved with commercial operations with Japanese manu's and suppliers. They do/did operate in an entirely different managerial/ops frame to that of the West. Life was difficult but as a customer i was able to exert my influence as to how they conducted our mutual businesses and we came out on top which proved to be mutually beneficial. That was then and this is now. There is no excuse these days for these operational values to be offset by cultural differences. Honda are a vast international conglomerate and their involvement with western businesses and global operations is second to none. I have no answer to what the problems are but there appears to be a massive technological fail and that should be the focus.....and forget the cultural differences. Red Bull pulled Renault back from the brink by forcing their hand. It was only because of Red Bull insisting that they either take outside guidance or lose Red Bull as a customer that they, [renault] finally took consultancy from Illien. Look at the change...... Honda have had three years now and they are, to date, a disaster. Time to move on IMO.


Thats bcoz alonso's way screws a whole team

Fernando 150% Alonso

Can he be replaced? Right now? Who will sign NOW for McL? Who from the top of the grid?


From a driver point of view I don't think it really matters who drives a car that slow. It may do for sponsorship and what not.


Was it not a Whitmarsh decision to strike the partnership with Honda ?
How much involvement Ron had at that time was open to speculation........


Honda has shown what it is capable of over the pass two seasons. Perhaps if McLaren ran Prius engines until Honda produced a viable PU it would be a motivation for Honda?


Don't blame Alonso for the mess McLaren is in. McLaren isn't saying that they will go to another engine just because of Alonso, only that Fernando would follow his own counsel about where he drives, as would any other driver.


Could it not be argued that Alonso's presence in 2007 was where the rot set in?


If you make that argument, then don't forget to throw Lewis Hamilton into the equation as well. Since despite his "good boy" image, Lewis played his part in helping create the toxic atmosphere back in 2007 (e.g. Monaco GP: after being beaten by Alonso fair and square, he insinuates in the media that McLaren favored the Spaniard; when in fact he was bouncing all over the place trying to keep up during the race, hence jeopardizing a 1-2 finish). Same goes for Ron Dennis (agreed to give Alonso priority status upon signing him in 2005, but reneged once he saw that Hamilton himself was star).

Besides, McLaren won the championship in 2008, won races in 2009 and were contenders for the driver's title in 2010 and 2012.


McLaren won the championship in 2008..

Polite correction - Hamilton won the drivers championship but Ferrari won the constructors.


That's not how I remember it, but I could be wrong. I thought Lewis was all over the back of Alonso being faster than him. I remember Lewis saying on the radio that" he wanted to win one soon" . So I think up to that point, Alonso was given priority treatment. I don't think Fernando liked the fact that his rookie teammate was just as fast as him and many times, faster. But correct me if I'm wrong😊
And I think it's wrong that any driver expects Nr1 status. A bit cowardly I think.


It could not be argued..


Ron Dennis failing to honour his promises to Alonso is where the rot started.


Are we 100% certain that that's what Dennis promised? I can't imagine it, as it's not the usual McLaren way.

Either way, you're arguing in favour of a fixed no1-no2 team setup, which is antithetical to true racing spirit.


Yes we are 100% certain Alonso was promised "priority status".

I'm not arguing in favour of team orders, you're guilty of a non sequitur there my friend.


And gave us a great season.
Must be hard being a racing driver them finding out you actually have to race your teammate.


When you were promised no 1 status, yes it must be. Also he was racing his team not his team mate. Ron Dennis "we were racing Fernando today".

Need to think before I post in future. " will this give Hamilton cause to gripe"


Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of Alonso aswell and would love to see him in a top car now, fighting for wins. But his decision making has proven to be a weak point. IMO, Alonso was just as much to blame for that fiasco as Dennis. As for the " we're racing Fernando" thing. Was that not something to do with Alonso doing his best to slow Lewis down. Especially in qualifying. As for Dennis promising Alonso Nr 1 status. If he had, then it must have been something they both discussed, and for an out and out racing driver, I think that's wrong. Schumi had it at Ferrari and Vettel had it at RB. It's wrong. Some races are fine if it helps the team. But outright Nr1 status is wrong. Look at the Senna/Prost years. 2 Nr1"s. Very entertaining.
Good thing Lewis hasn't got/want Nr 1 status at Merc, how would the last 3 years have been. People think they were boring enough. At least we got some sort of battle with Ham/Ros. But I'm sure Lewis won't gripe, and if he does, maybe it something he learnt from Fernando. Ask them at McClaren and Ferrari.🍻


I'm not saying team order are right or wrong. I'm sayingRon Dennis broke his promise to Alonso to give him priority status. Yes, Alonso was immature in the way he reacted, but he was very young at the time so it's understandable if not excusable. Blaming Alonso for McLaren's woes on Alonso, which was the point I was responding to is simply incorrect. Was it Alonso that allowed the team to use leaked Ferrari design documents? Alonso that drove Raikonnen away from the team with a construing atmosphere? Alonso that lost a stream of design talent, like Newey, Pat Fry, Paddy Lowe? ALonso that orchestrated spygate? Alonso that created bad relationships with key stakeholders and power wielded like Max Mosley? Alonso that drove Mercedes to such despair that they bought their own team to escape the toxic associations? No, Ron Dennis did all of this.


I would stick with Honda, but only if they buy in the necessary outside expertise to become competitive. If the culture in Honda means they insist on fixing things themselves I would try to get Manors 2017 Mercedes engines in the car asap. Ain't life easy from a distance!


Didn't Honda part company with Giles Simon? The ex Ferrari engine designer?


Maybe get Manor's chassis too...


They already have the Manor's paint job!


I really thought Honda would have brought something special this year to be the second best engine. It's clear they have no clue what they are doing and I think McLaren should drop them yesterday and take any of the other engines.


Since 1992, what have Honda produced in F1 which would confirm your thoughts on their abilities?

I think too many people are looking at Honda through 25 year old Rose tints.

It's worth bearing in mind that Senna told Honda during winter testing in 1991 that their engine was falling behind Renault. They withdrew at the end of 1992.

Honda changed the F1 landscape during the 80'summer by out spending an arrogant European belief system.

Europe learnt fast

Christopher Fox

Make their own engine. There are plenty of companies that could help McLaren design an engine in the UK. Otherwise, Honda has to swallow their pride and move the engine department to the UK.


There was talk of them making a McLaren-badged engine with Ricardo a few years back, but that was in the relatively cheap V8 era. These hybrid V6's are a different kettle of fish entirely. You'd need the expertise and resources of a major manufacturer to make a competitive one. I mean, this article only exists because the world's larges engine manufacturer has failed to do it properly.

Racing driver 1

They probably should move the factory to the UK. Mercedes has all its AMG facilities in the UK and that's been a smart decision.
I've traveled the world and worked around the world, and British innovation is second to none.


Well, I'm not sure what parts of the world you were travelling, but you surely have missed that there are many other countries with great innovation pedigrees. Some of the most advance race car technology in the world (e.g. WEC) is being developed elsewhere. The UK is the center of the specialist F1 industry, and for that reason (amongst others) there are advantages to locating there. But outside of F1, one can see that true innovation in the automotive world is coming from many corners, including Japan. The issue here is not that the UK is "better" than Japan (as your post would suggest), but rather the whole management and leadership of this relationship, whose disfunction resides on both sides IMO.


Well said Racing Drivers 1




Too expensive / no business case.
They will need a manufacturer to bankroll it.


having their own f1 engine factory in uk will take them years to build so you can easily say good bye to the next three season...
at this point their only option is to back to merc


The cost of developing these PU's are astronomical. And McLaren would have to shoulder this alone, there is no way on earth they could get sponsorship or enough car sales to cover that kinda of expense.

The only realistic option on this is to go to Cosworth or similar (I say cosworth because they built a prototype for the 2014 rules) and get them to build an engine but badge it as a Honda. This is a realistic option - it still writes off 2017 - but it essentially means McLaren make the engine in partnership with a UK specailist company and then you badge it as a Honda. Possibly throw some Honda engineers in that would move and they rate. You would run this development in parrallel to give the Japanese Honda engine time to resolve its woes (which it might) and then switch if it doesn't. Its still very very expensive and they would be looking at bill of around 100+ Million.

Its basically what Mercedes did years ago, they didn't go to their normal engineering department and ask them to build an F1 engine.

But I read into this asking Mercedes as the "cheap" parallel option - you explore the possibility of signing a customer deal, while Honda gets the message and has time to resolve its issues but if they don't you have the switch either for the back end of the year or 2018.

One thing I have been wondering is Esso's role in all of this - reports are that the engine is vibrating far too much. That essentially is a combustion problem of some sort I wonder how much the late in the day switch of fuel supplier has contributed to these problems. Honda have changed a LOT of variables going into this year, its also no suprise that the further back an engine was the more reliability issues it has created during pre-season.


Branding something else as Honda is an interesting forth option. I don't know why Cosworth would be that much better at this formula though, they'd effectively be starting from year zero.

It really depends on the nature of the issues. Can they drop this PU in a mule and beat it up on a private track? Are their regs against that?

Say mclaren score points on the regular but are like fifth best, is that success from here? It looks like they could be DFL right now so mid-pack would be a huge recovery, right?


Good post.
The Cosworth - Honda "badge engineering" suggestion is clever, but I doubt its feasible: I imagine the cost of R&D, facilities etc... would be way in excess of 100m, with no guarantees of success, and long timescales to boot.


Excellent point about the change of fuel/lubricant – hadn't considered that. May be having a bigger effect than anyone realised.


Going back to being a customer dooms Mclaren to being on the fringes of the top three, avoiding this situation is why they gave up the Mercedes supply and went with Honda in the first place. It sounds as though this year is a write off anyway, trying to rejig the car to accept a different PU is always going to involve compromises that will limit their competitiveness, so they might as well stick with what they have already. There are no tokens this year so in theory there is nothing to stop Honda working day and night on the dyno in order to solve the problems they have, this level od commitment is what is required to succeed in F1. It seems that Honda are willing to spend the money, but have a serious problem accepting advice from outside the company. Whoever the top people at Mercedes and Ferrari should be receiving big money job offers right now, as even Honda would have to admit that what they have tried up to now has been a failure.


The logic for teaming up with Honda was that you'd need to effectively be a works team to compete with Mercedes & Ferrari. However, they'd probably settle for being able to compete with Force India right now.


Kenny, I'm not sure that they would settle for that without a long term plan in place to get them back towards the front. If McLaren have another manufacturer in line, then the Merc supply in the mean time makes sense, if not they might as well stick with Honda and hope it comes good in the end/


Mercedes would be the best stopgap, but you're right - they're going to need to be more than just a customer to compete at the front.


Red Bull seem to be proving this logic wrong.


Kenny, the other thing to think about is we are all assuming that if McLaren drop Honda then they will scurry off back to Japan with their tails between their legs, but what if they supply another team instead? If Red Bull took the Honda deal and started winning with it, McLaren would look really stupid!


True in case of Merc and Ferrari but not Renault - just look at Red Bull.


PB, Red Bull were in effect Renault's works team until they bought their old team back. No championships since that happened.


True, but they have been ahead of the works team and are likely to continue to be for now.


I have to agree. Give up this engine deal and you are probably destined for the mid field.Staying with what they have means they loose Alonso. Honestly, better to work with engine supplier, get car sorted then find a new young gun coming through. I do not think you can make your engineering decision based on a single driver, there really are a lot of good ones out there.


Scott, I'm not sure Fernando would stay even with a Mercedes supply for next year. he wants to drive for a manufacturer and fight for championships, a McLaren with a customer engine wouldn't give him that.


"Going back to being a customer dooms Mclaren to being on the fringes of the top three"

Arguably, but it's also arguably better to be on the fringes of the top three than at the bottom of the bottom three.

I proposed option 3 several articles ago and I still think that the way they should go.

Sure McLaren will suffer in the short term, but Honda have utterly failed and I can't see the relationship continuing.


Random, on the fringes of the top three forever, or at the back of the grid with a chance of making it to the front eventually, which is better?


No guarantees either way Tim 🙂

I do see what you're saying, but McLaren might end up having no choice but to go Mercedes/Ferrari/Renault anyway if Honda can't get their act together and end up withdrawing again, so maybe it's better that they do it on their own terms.


Random, Honda and McLaren are contracted to each other, so any withdrawl from that contract from either party would result in major financial implications. I just can't see anything other than a continued partnership between them, McLaren need to do everything they can to drive Honda forward, and Honda need to look to the outside for help.


Yes, but surely there's a performance clause in there somewhere?


Random, I wouldn't know, but it wouldn't surprise me if there wasn't. Honda have spent a huge amount, I doubt they would commit to that if the deal could be ended early.


That is a point 🙂

But then again would McLaren have committed if they *couldn't* get out of a dodgy engine deal?

I think we could around and around on this all day, but the bottom line I think is that there's no right answer to this: McLaren has a few options, none of them good.


Don't think it will doom them that much TimW . It's better than being the brunt of a media massacre having Honda engines. Honda are certainly not making Mclarens DREAMS come true.
There is only so much that both companies can take. Both are in a relationship that is turning sour by the day. The impending disaster is about to hit the fan come Australia. If they end up being lapped or shaking to a halt after a few laps. Or being lapped twice then that is the final nail.
Better to have a Mercedes engine than have a dud Honda.
If this carries on..
Alonso will walk
Honda will be on a hiding for nothing.
Mclaren can afford the divorce.
Just means the rich share holders will cough up for Alonso contract and the Merc engines.
On a positive note least we will get two more cars in the the top 3 team battle in 2017.


BK, I can't see McLaren ditching Honda without a sole supply deal from another manufacturer in place. Perhaps a year or two as Merc customers while they wait for whoever that may be to get up to speed.


TimW Yep it will be a serious separation if it happens. Perhaps they should get Boris Johnso in to confuse the whole process even further.
See how the 1st race goes .
Mclaren really don't want two DNFs
at British GP.


well redbull are doing fine without having renault support


Tarun, they won championships with full Renault support, but haven't won any since that support was removed.


Tim, that's a shortsighted bullet point...I bet you if renault is on par with merc...redbull would be competing for championship against the merc...
Why do you think Ferrari and Merc didn't offer them engines in the first place?


Tarun, there is a reason Red Bull were so determined to get out of the Renault contract, and it's no coincidence that this occurred when Renault announced they were having their own team again. RB are in the same situation McLaren were when Mercedes decided to go it alone, they were the main focus of Renault's attention and would have enjoyed all the benefits that entails, and no they are not. This is why Horner was trying so hard to get VW involved.


They were the de facto works Renault team for quite a while, though.


Reading that has just made me appreciate even more what Ross Brawn and his team acheived in 2009! 🙂


The must've gone through an incredible amount of work to make that happen, and they must've done it very well, given how reliable the car ultimately was.

It's interesting that the Honda engine planned for 2009 was also supposed to be a 'size zero' concept, and that the car was originally going to be a lot tighter at the rear with even better airflow to the double diffuser. I've never been able to decide whether it would've gone faster or slower with the intended engine.


well they had two months prior to season start this needs to be done in season!


Err, but Ross Brawn took a brilliant decision in 2009 - plonk a Good Merc Engine in the brawn!


Hope McLaren are reading this.


and yet again some credits should go to McLaren and Martin Whitmarsh who made that engine deal possible


This sounds interesting, why is that? 🙂


because mclaren Mercedes were the works outfit and as such mclaren could have just said no to providing engines

considering it was just as feasible to stick a cosworth v8 in the back of that brawn gp it turned out to be a very sporting decision from mclaren, although Merc bought brawn the following season and the rest is history, mclaren were no longer Merc's lovechild and the steady slip down the field began


That is because Martin Whitmarsh was one of the ones (if not the one) who persuaded Mercedes to give Brawn their engines for 2009 - otherwise Brawn GP wouldn't run in the championship. You can read more in the book of Ross Brawn.

Some say Ron Dennis "hated" Whitmarsh because eventually this decision has led to Mercedes buying Brawn and establishing their own team - so McLaren have lost Mercedes works support and had to talk to Honda


I forgot to say in my previous post, McLaren need to forget about keeping Fernando, he is already effectively gone. Maybe he will stick it out to the end of the season, but after that he will either be in a Mercedes or a sports car.


You are right, in all likelihood. Unless McLaren wins races on merit this year (and a few of them) - which by the way has the same odds as me winning the Lotto jackpot (and I almost never buy a ticket anyway) - Alonso is GONE. He will prefer to take a sabbatical year if he doesn't find another drive than continue with McLaren.


PB, it isn't impossible that Honda could make significant progress this year, but looks unlikely from such a poor start.


He won't be in a Mercedes, Toto Wolff said the Merc board will never partner Hamilton and Alonso after 2007. He won't be going back to Ferrari, I can only see retirement for Alonso.




I don't think it is outside the realm of possibilities that Hamilton might just win his 4th championship this year and decide to retire. Mercedes would be happy to bring Alonzo on board then.


Aelfwald. Everyone said he would never be allowed to return to McLaren, but he did! Having thought about it Merc obviously want to keep their options open by only giving Valterri a one year, perhaps for Vettel rather than Fernando, this would leave a seat at Ferrari available with no other obvious candidate to fill it....


Maybe he'll opt for both and drive the safety car 🙂

"Pick up the pace Vandoorne, Fernando is faster than you..."


alonso or no alonso...
do you see honda being competittive in next three years? I really don't...they have to make a discussion honda aren't prepared for it frankly..its time to move on


Tarun I have no idea, but Ferrari have shown what is possible from a poor start. McLaren really are in a bad place, ditch Honda and write off the last two years of pain for zero gain, or stick with them and hope they manage to deliver eventually? Tough choice.


yeah man but ferrari were able to turn around in a year their 14 engine was dud even worse than renault now they're equal almost to merc...that's progress where do you see honda? its not like they have been in F1 for only a year..
Mclaren had merc engines in 14 I am surprised honda didn't study their design philosophy and implemented it..
this speaks of a closed mindset...this is why they have such a bad engine now


Tarun, all true. The Ferrari example really is the stick McLaren can beat Honda with isn't it?

Tornillo Amarillo

My answer is OPTION 3, BREAK OUT with Honda and put a Merc PU.

Forget any other PU like Ferrari.

Keeping Alonso is not a priority. Vandoorne is good enough and championship material and any other driver next year like Wherlein or Ericcson would be fine and they would be happy to have a Merc PU in a iconic car -McLaren.

Alonso could go to Merc in 2018... or wherever or retiring.

4 races lost this year is not too much, just go to work. 2017 is a transition year for something better, not for the same bad results in a "horribilis-Honda-come-back years".

Ask Liberty to help.

Now Denis is not there, new faces can do the swap.

Bye Honda.


Werhrein or Ericsson to McLaren instead of Alonso? Are you serious? Sponsors would be more than thrilled having one of the two worst (imho) paid drivers of current Formula coming to the team. It's funny how people only consider Alonso's salary and forget his marketing value - which brigs money to the team


I don't see too much sponsors in the Mclaren this year or in the last 4 or 5 years, Alonso seems irrelevant to that and actually quite expensive, a waste of money in my opinion


It must be me... but what sponsorship adorns the Mclaren of the last three seasons which was connected to Alonso?


With Kimi expected to retire, Bottas being dropped if he doesn't perform and Renault expected to make progress, there should be a lot of seats next year. Can McLaren really retain Alonso.

If they can retain Alonso they should make the switch, though as a McLaren fan, a McLaren-Ferrari will be hard to swallow.


As long as Hamilton is at Mercedes and not thinking of retiring, it is very unlikely they'll take Alonso or Vettel even if Bottas under performs before they give Paschal an opportunity. i.e Only if he is able to outperform Marcus.

Alonso might not want to return to Ferrari because returning to Ferrari may mean he'll have to admit he was wrong to leave in the first place. But this is F1 and I have seen stranger things. Take Alonso for example, no one would have guessed he would return to Mclaren back after 2007 or for that matter Ron Dennis would hire him back after spy gate. With his bad luck the moment he leaves Mclaren for Mercedes or Ferrari or any other team, Mclaren will suddenly be the team winning the WDC.


Disagree with the last part.."the bad luck" part....
If it happened once may be you could've said so...but Since Alonso has blown away opportunities regularly; its a pattern...he is clearly weak in decision making...& this has nothing to do with his bad luck....In fact he's had "good luck"....getting paid $40Mil only to get lapped every race since other driver in the history of F1 to have been treated like that


I can't see Ferrari having him back, nor can I see Mercedes being keen after 2007, Red Bull is also highly unlikely

His old stop gap, Renault, is back in business so there is always that option if they start getting more competitive


Someone suggested Williams, which I thought could have merit if they can get back to regular podium finishes again.

Matthew Cheshire

Isn't Liberty the bear in the room here? They must want Alonso in a competitive car. Alonso needs to be mixing it with Hamilton to maximise the show. They also need Honda to recover - Japan is a key market. If they fail, they won't be back. Mclaren are less important - British team (plenty of those) / exotic car maker ( already have one) . If this goes on - and Mclaren will because another engine in their chassis won't be a winner either, Liberty will get Alonso loaned to a useful team and prop up McHonda in return.

No one is winning from Mclaren's death spiral. Liberty will act.


i would be surprised if any team wanted Alonso. He demands too much from a team and is only likely to stay for a year or two at most. In that time he could cause a lot of problems, especially given his habit of running to the media if he doesn't get what he wants. I've yet to be convinced Alonso is the best driver on the grid. His results from the last 10 years don't back up his claims.


For all his (proclaimed) brilliance, he is so undesirable that none of the top teams want him. What a sad position to be in - he must have many regrets...


Well nobody has expected him to return to McLaren after 2007... I see no reason why can't he go back to Ferrari (in case Vettel decides to leave) - split with Ferrari was not so dramatic as with McLaren also many personalities have changed there as well.

Mercedes would be a fantastic solution (from viewers point of view) - Alonso seems to have changed a lot since 2007 but on the other hand looks like Hamilton hasn't (based on issues with Rosberg)


It has been absolutely heartbreaking seeing McLaren trundling around at the back, and I was very excited at the prospect of them making strides to catch up this season. What makes it worse is when you see their budget and you realise that there is absolutely no excuse for it! It would be great to one day have some more insight into what has gone so badly wrong for such a great team 🙁


Yes but its not Mclaren's fault. Its the damn Honda


Well, McLaren does need to take some of the blame. Not only because their chassis building skills haven't been the best in recent times but also because of their refusal to let Honda supply more teams.


I don't agree completely. This is supposed to be a strategic partnership, not a supplier-customer relationship. McLaren should have had adequate governance over the relationship to know where they were heading. Its a failure on McLarens behalf that the problems only surfaced in Barcelona. Particularly given the warning signs of the last few years...!


Not completely convinced, they were not competitive in 2013 and 14 with the Mercedes engine....

Fernando 150% Alonso

Prodromu's second year with McL should do the trick! Don't you think?

Tornillo Amarillo

If Alonso retires, McLaren can get Button (or Rosberg) too.
Massa is doing well at his age and very happy.

Alonso in or out is not the problem here.

McLaren contract is the problem FOR ALONSO only.


Jenson looks very happily retired, to me. I'd be surprised if he raced in 2018, even if Alonso did leave.


Did you ever consider the fact that this crappy car was the reason Button got demotivated and left in the first place? There is no way he is returning now.
Also Rosberg: he was driving a Mercedes and left, what makes you think he would randomly come back for a team like Mclaren?


It seams Alonso is a big problem for you, isn't he? Neither Massa or Button have capabilities or value of Alonso. Besides that Button has retired because he doesn't want to race, Massa was forced to retire because his place was gone. And Rosberg - where does he come in the picture here? Retired from the top team and suddenly going into losing one? WOW. I'd suggest you considering Mika Hakkinen - he has already signed a deal with McLaren.
and to summarise - no, Alonso is not a problem here, neither is his contract. problem is that he doesn't a proper car to race and this is not up to him to produce


Do you think Button is ready to drive around in that car? If they lose Alonso, they would have lost a WDC, there is a draw to having a two WDC in your team, you can use that to get sponsorship. Mercedes could have ditched Hamilton for anybody between 2014 and 2016, but, he is a WDC and that counts a lot.


I don't think that any amount of WDC's can compensate the loss of attractiveness to a sponsor of being associated with a car this uncompetitive...


The rationale for going with Honda in the first place was that in an 'engine formula' era you may be competitive with a customer engine, but you can't win championships and that you need a full partnership with an engine manufacturer. If McLaren still believe thats true they've got no real choice but to stick with Honda. There's no other game in town.


That was very much Ron's opinion, but Zak Brown may be a little more pragmatic. It's unlikely they'll beat Mercedes even with the same engine, but they have no chance with the Honda turd in the back.

Fernando 150% Alonso

You just pointed out something interesting. Starting this season this should be no more (such) an engine formula. So maybe McL can think outside the box and gamble...again


Very well said. Unless Audi....


Ron believed that. I believed Ron. What the rest of the Macca board think is anyone's guess!


Instead of firing Jost Capito, they should fired Eric Boullier. Lets face it even with the Mercedes engine in the back of the 2015 and 2016 car the would have not won any races.


I really can't see option 3 happening. It'd be an impossible task to re-engineer the chassis so close to the start of the season, and surely Honda wouldn't just agree to crawl off with their tail between their legs having already done the pre-season (albeit badly).

That said, can't really see option 1 happening either. McLaren certainly don't seem to view it as a long-term project anymore.

Option 2 is most likely, but if they become customers of Ferrari/Renault/Mercedes it will pretty much guarantee that they won't be frontrunners again for a long time. Without a title sponsor, losing the money Honda bring, as well as free engines (however bad they are), would be pretty disastrous.

One thing I've only seen mentioned fleetingly is a possible tie-up with BMW - a partnership to build hybrid powertrains for McLaren road cars has already been announced, so it's not quite as outlandish as it might sound. They'd obviously face the same potential issues as Honda have, but the thing that's struck me about Honda's response to their situation is a strange lack of urgency. BMW might see competing with Mercedes as more of an incentive to make a success of it. Just a thought.


BMW are going to GT in the WEC next year, they don't see F1 as a good invest ment. Neither do Audi, Peugeot or Toyota.


I am wondering whether the problem is that Honda can't properly built the engine that they designed. If so, maybe McLaren should simply say; "Give us the design blueprints, and we will ask our road car engine maker (Ricardo) to make them instead", or they could ask Ilmor to take a look, since they have experience working on "fixing" the Renault engines.


as Illmor have been working with Renault of late they may be in a period of non-disclosure or gardening leave with regard to assisting any other F1 engine maker.


Can McLaren afford to let go of the $60 million and free motors from Honda?

Is Honda committed or has it already given up, beyond fulfilling the minimum contract obligations?

Maybe McLaren gives up on Alonso, stays with Honda money for the year, and gets ready for next year with, Ferrari, Merc, or Renault. Renault could be attractive. Renault could end their own team, supply McLaren, and hope to say bye-bye to Red Bull down the line.

It's all too bad. Someone commented that both McLaren and Honda are to blame. I wonder how true that is. In what specific ways might McLaren have failed Honda? For whatever reason, Honda has failed itself.


McLaren have failed themselves by painting themselves into this corner. Honestly, heads should roll. Oh, hang on...


McLaren should twist more money out of Honda, I'm sure that Honda has a subsidiary that can get sponsorship space on the MP4/32, make the deal long term with increased involvement and R&D, maybe even do the Honda high performance engine department in England...


We don't know enough. Do McLaren?

I would be wanting evidence of what had been going on on the test rigs back in Japan. It might be a simple configuration cock-up so the car and engine were incompatible so the wick had to be turned down (and hence the unreliability with parts getting fried or damaged by contact). The lack of communication that led to such a turn of events would be troubling but it would seem the most likely scenario.

The other side could simply be a spot of Japanese loss of face culture - no-one asked the right question in the right way so nobody was able to reveal that things had gone astray.

But back to the first point, I find it difficult to believe that Honda did not know that their engine was a step backwards before the test, so that suggests something went horribly wrong in mating the engine to the car. If it was a McLaren fault, then a new Mercedes engine might not be the resolution.


It is very strange to see that Honda has got problems with the vibrations of the unit. Severe vibrations suggest fundamental design flaw, something that can be predicted through computer simulations. I don’t think McLaren will go with the option 3, as Honda would not be happy with it and would do whatever they can to prevent it. I think they will continue with Honda until the end of the season, by which time Honda may fix the problem, in which case they may end up with a good power unit. Not very likely but may happen. In any case, they have to start planning for option 2 and I would be surprised if they have not already initiated the discussion with Ferrari and/or Mercedes on the use of their power units in 2018.


"Honda would not be happy with it and would do whatever they can to prevent it"

What are they going to do, threaten to make a worse engine?


wasnt that said around last year too or the year before?


McLaren-Alfa Romeo.
I am surprised at my own schadenfreude at this story... I like to see McLaren do as well as the next man does, but this is perversely enjoyable. The total and absolute humiliation Honda must be feeling is mindblowing! To think they see themselves as big proponents and partial innovators of the hybrid road car technology... fantastic


x2 on the schadenfreude ... but only with regards to McLaren.

I feel sorry for Honda... can almost hear those wakizashi swords being sharpened back in Tochigi...


I'd go for option A. So much has already been invested in this partnership. Stick with Honda but insist that outside experience and expertise is introduced. It's really disappointing though, that so many years into this partnership, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. What a mess!


Honda's record when they took over BAR in 2005 was quite frankly embarrassing culminating in two rank rotten machines that Rubens and Jenson had to drive in 2007 and 2008. From that evidence alone there obviously something to be worried about surrounding Honda's technical capabilities and incompetence. So why did McLaren think they were a safe bet in this new power unit era? Nostalgia for a period 2-3 decades ago?


Add to this their struggles in Indy car. though Indy's engine is produced in USA itself it's still the same Honda. They haven't been very successful recently


Yet many cars moved to Honda power for this year in Indycar. Ganassi moved from Chevy to Honda, while Foyt moved the other way. Of the 21 full-time cars on the Indycar circuit, 8 are Chevy powered and 13 are Honda powered.

Honda only won 2 races last season (though they won the big one, the Indy 500), but they won the opener this year, Bourdais going from last to first in St. Petersburg. Honda was 1-3-4 in St. Pete's (top 3 finishes count for the engine manufacturer's standings), and this is with the top team Penske being powered by Chevy.

The engine in Indycar is a 2.2L V6 twin turbo.


I'm guessing the Indycar engine is a heck of a lot more simple.


Nick, it is simpler, and also much less powerful.


In IndyCar Honda have made huge strides this winter. A honda powered car win the opening race in Florida last weekend, breezing past a Penske Chevy on the straight to take the win. Of course, none of that is of any comfort to McLaren, but it does show that Honda are not completely incapable.


/The new rules say that one of the other manufacturers must supply them/

Provided that manufacturers are informed before 1 June of preceding year.
If McLaren were to break with Honda and had no deal with Mercedes, they could only ask to have manufacturer appointed for 2018.


Would love to see a McFerrari.. hahaha


I don't think Macca fans would stand for that,,,


To jump into the engineering fray: While it is outlined above that conditions are far more critical than 'assumed' with appearances during testing, and there are additional questions related to straight line speed (was the Honda turned down or not? and what was the cause of the failure that sent a lump back to the factory?) in Barcelona - the root causes are still (apparently) publicly undefined, per the comment that the engineers may not have shared everything with the hierarchy.

Consequently there must be some value in getting to those root causes and determining whether or not there is any hope. At this time, however, McLaren would probably benefit from paralleling strategies (if they have not already started) by opening discussions with both Mercedes and Ferrari to see if there are indeed options from each.

Assuming that there are both options because capacity to assume another team for both manufacturers was observed to exist and that Honda must be willing to put up or otherwise do the honorable thing for the sport -- practicality would require that an analysis of which alternative unit would be the most efficient to fit into the existing chassis. Planning for a conversion while Honda gets a short lease on development life should start based on what would fit best, one would think.

That exercise should be underway immediately and Honda should be willing to foot the bill while trying to solve their technical issues -- especially given the veracity of the quotes above from Honda. At this time parallel strategies just makes practical sense instead of chopping the head off and then trying to figure out how to graft a new one on under increased duress.

Best wishes to all parties involved.


An interesting solution for the problem, balanced and well thought, as the post.
Thanks Garrett, I'm behind you with this.


Copy and thanks - appreciated.

Shortly after the post above, saw the comment on another website and posted a follow-up that McLaren had apparently already began the parallel approach, but that wasn't included when looking at this site earlier today. That is the only note seen elsewhere on the issue.


I would think Mclaren will still have some knowledge regarding Mercedes egine. They should be able to look at the legacy data from the past and some fine tuning would make them settled by spain as James mentioned.

Do option 3, Get Honda out now, if they want Alonso for another year or two.


I vote for option 3. They can shame Honda into some funding to ease the pain. With a new engine I think sponsors will return. Nowhere to go but up from here. Japan Inc is washed up.


Massive blow for F1 if Honda go out like this. We've already lost Manor and now we're on the brink of a manufacturer embarrassed and heading out of F1. These PUs are a technological marvel, but a sporting one? That's the question Ross Brawn and his upcoming technical panel will answer.


Ferrari got few clues from Merc. in 2015. May be its time, Honda gets few from others. Brawn could send the meeting request 😉


Very, very good point... which I'm sure is not lost on Brawn and his boffins.


4. Buy* the engine design, as is, from Honda. Fix and develop it with Riccardo as per the road car. Become a full manufacturer.

By 'buy' I'm mean Free, and Honda retain sponsorship and naming for the rest of the year, possibly cheaper licensing of IP or something.... there's a deal to be done there which minimises casualties.


Its a good idea, but it assumes that Riccardo can do a better job than Honda. And Riccardo will want to get paid... and I can't see Honda writing off the investment to date, plus paying someone else to do their job going forward.


There is a precedent for "Honda writing off the investment to date, plus paying someone else to do their job going forward" , ask Ross Brawn. That one worked out rather well.


@James Encore - Good point, which I hadn't considered. It worked out well for last time, which couldn't have been lost on Honda. All the more reason for not doing it again?


I'm amazed that you think Riccardo can do a better job than the likes of Ferrari, Honda and Renault, because let's be honest, none of these 3 engine manufacturers which poured hundreds of millions into this new technology has got to the level shown by Mercedes. What makes you think that Mclaren (which are not an engine or PU builder) and Riccardo can get the job done? A job that Ferrari and Renault are struggling and Honda clearly doesn't understand it.


I'm not sure at all that they could do a better job of it than Mercedes, Renault, or Ferrari.

I am sure however, that it's not just money that's required to win. The right people, approach, process, collaboration and communication are key.

Honda can't handle it and I'd like to see them take responsibility for their own success before they revert back to a customer team.

This has and will cost them hundreds of millions either way. Might as well own it.


@Paul... The point is it hasn't cost McLaren directly, as Honda has being paying the bills.


How on Earth can't have they seen that when testing their PU in Japan ?!
I mean, the PU is weaker than the one from 2016 !
And nobody saw that in the datas in Japan ???!!!


Maybe they were too busy playing Pokemon (or whatever it is that Japanese engineers do when they're designing monumentally disappointing hybrid engines).


Can they have Honda build (or acquire) an engine facility in UK (just like Merc did with Ilmor) ?


Its capability, IP, know-how, infrastructure, human capital, systems & processes, etc.... you can't just spirit that up overnight, even in that magical place that is the UK


I can't see it making much difference what McLaren do. At the end of the year I can see Vettel going to Merc and Alonso back to Ferrari.


I believe they will go with Option 2.. primarily due to money factor


can someone enlighten me as to these bigger airboxes, Merc did it last year and most teams have followed suit, and as is the norm McHonda have bucked the trend and done a small airbox, I read somewhere that its got to do with chargecoolers and such stuff...


I saw they had appointed Mika Hakkinen to a new role; and though either they're really desperate for someone to lead the team post-Ron, or the scraping the barrel for engine knowledge, or he's the only experienced driver they could get behind the wheel .
And seriously, they need to stop worrying about Alonso. He's 35 and doesn't have many years left in him; Schumacher won races when was old than Fernando is now, so did Webber (2) and Barrichello (2) they are the only 3 this century.

McLaren will turn up in Melbourne with a Honda unit, it's too late to change that now; and even if a deal were done to put something else in the car it would be asking too much to integrate the engine before the season is a write off. Option 3 is the most expensive, and ties up resources on the 2017 car which could go into a 2018 one with a different PU.

So the question is do they tough it out until the Honda comes right or the Honda board say "This is insane, we're spending a fortune to damage our brand" or do they decide to pull the plug - whoever breaks up the deal probably has to compensate the other. Frankly they must have allowed for the possibility of Honda quitting if this season is a stinker, and must be talking to other suppliers. Option 1 needs both sides to be in it for the long term and Honda have entered and withdrawn from F1 more times than anyone else, so I'm not going to bet on them still being here in 2018

So then it is a question of getting to post-Honda (and likely post-Alonso) era in the best shape possible - which for McLaren means making the Honda the one to call time on the whole deal. After that...
A Ferrari powered McLaren is unthinkable.
I can't see Red Bull welcoming another team with Renault power, even if the idea goes down well at Renault.
The people agreed for Mercedes engines to go into Brawn's car have all moved on to other things, but I can see some in Brackley saying "We wouldn't be here now if Woking had veto'd that , so we owe them one" .
Ron didn't want to be a customer engine team, but Ron's gone and if we only have 3 F1 engine makers that means there are only 3 teams contesting the championship. If Honda goes, then someone needs to talk BMW, Ford, Peugeot, Toyota back in or VW/Audi. After Honda's experience that will be tough, so you I predict a new engine formula to allow new entrants to start at the same place as established players. Take your own guess on what the current 3 will try to avoid that.


This is so true. Two points mentioned that caught my attention: only 3 teams contesting the championship, a new engine formula to open up competition.


I agree that the situation with Honda is terrible for F1 to attract new engine suppliers.


None of the manufacturers you listed are queuing up to enter F1. In fact, the WEC is going to see two of them enter in the next few years, one in GT and the other in P1.


One could see this coming from a long ways off as Honda slowly quit being a company driven by engineers. I don't believe Honda has the internal structure necessary to first identify and then fix their problems.

My feelings are for Alonso and him being stuck with this dog of a team while his driving career sunsets. McLaren should let him go now, right now while there's still some slight chance he could end up with a competitive team. Perhaps a trade to Renault for an engine deal.


McLaren should have let him go three months ago, and we'd all be relishing watching LH go mano-a-mano with FA in the Mercedes.

Its unthinkable that McLaren didn't see this coming over winter. Have they not been checking up on what the hell was going on in the Tochigi engine test facilities over the last 12 months??!!


My lowest priority would be holding onto Alonso and getting the car/engine package right would be main priority. There would be a number of drivers who could've won championship last season in the Mercedes just like Barrichello could've probably won it in the Brawn (if JB hadn't been there). Therefore, if the car is right, there'll be a driver available who could win with it.
Stick this year out with Honda but make plans for alternative next season. If Honda don't take advice from Illien or Simon or don't make a massively substantial improvement by themselves by the end of the year then get rid of them.


The problem with your logic is that Jenson and Rubens did well at the beginning of the season in 2009 because the car was miles ahead the others. The situation changed towards the end of the season didn't it?
So the logic that if the car is right there will be a driver to win is only valid if the car would be miles ahead of others and I find it hard to believe someone could be miles ahead of Mercedes in such short time.


You're missing my point, I was merely highlighting that the driver doesn't need to be the greatest if the car is good. Was Rosberg the best driver on the grid last season?... better than Alonso or Vettel? Who knows because the Mercedes was loads better. Better than Hamilton?
Whilst you're on about logic, the Brawn won drivers & constructors so it was a good car. Were others not able to catch up throughout the season because they had bigger budgets? Also, by your logic, who'd have predicted the Brawn (Honda) would've been such a good car based upon the previous season's results??... granted, there won't be the change in regulation for next season which ultimately gave Brawn their march on the others but still...


Simon, well the Ferrari was a good car in 2015 and 2016. Not a great car, but definitely better than Williams, McLaren, Torro Rosso, Force India, Renault, Sauber and Haas, so I would call it a good car. And the 2 drivers, Seb and Kimi would be rated better than most, right? They are WDC. So my point is that a good car and pretty good drivers were nowhere near winning the championship. The same applies to RedBull.

So unless the car is miles ahead of the rest, a decent driver has no chance.


Seems the parallel strategy option is underway: McLaren has made an exploratory approach to Mercedes about an engine supply, according to the BBC.


To be honest, I'd probably stick to a longer-term strategy and just write this year off. Drastic changes are still unlikely to break McLaren into the top 3, so what real gain are they likely to see from dropping Honda over the course of this season?

That's not to say that they shouldn't seek another engine supplier for future years, they probably should. But I certainly wouldn't pin my strategy around Fernando - as good a driver as he is, his best years are likely behind him and I dare say he won't be around for too much longer.


The problem i see here is that if Honda cant build on engine to match others .How do you get an other engine suppliers to come into F1. What if Renault decide to stop where does this leave F1.


I still wish Honda can make a dramatic comeback at least for the sake of this legendary partnership (historical) with McLaren...F1 needs this partnership in the long run...but really very disappointed with Honda's performance even after 3 years and all the resources they have at their disposal...keeping my fingers crossed for Option 1 with Honda finding a good performance for 2017 :I


Tough call. I think the reality is they are in too deep with Honda. Going back to Mercedes will leave them as a customer team and back at square one. This is a new engine for Honda this season, so hopefully they will get on top of it and extract the performance they need. I can't see the other option (this season) being realistic. Regarding Alonso, I think he has already checked out. He will go though the season, but I won't be surprised if he has instructed his management team to negotiate a deal with Mercedes for next season.


I agree with most of this, though I have a nagging feeling that Alonso will wind up back at Renault and not M-B. It's always possible that Honda gets it together, though I expect that won't be before the Summer break.


Option 3 - ditch Honda now! it at least gives them the second half of the season to achieve a moderate result, rather than certain mediocrity with Honda. #TimesUp


Stick with Honda guys. They will come good and the Japanese place great value on honour, integrity and loyalty. This will pay dividends in the future


I am just curious James. Is it possible to have an option 4 where Mclaren run a 2016 Mercedes engine with the Honda badge something similar to the agreement Redbull and Renault have??? This would give Honda time to develop their engine for 2018 and still not lose face.


Trying to pass off a Mercedes as a Honda doesn't qualify as losing face to you?!?! I think they'd rather disembowel themselves than that!!


There are many Car companies in the world that run either a rebadged engine or another manufacturers engine. Mclaren road cars have had a BMW engine and a Mercedes engine at some point of time. So there is no shame in using a Mercedes engine at least a 2016 engine if not a 2017 one rebadged as Honda. The team can be called Mclaren Honda and use Mercedes power as the rules allow it.

As to loss of face, I think its too late for that. They need a solution ASAP that doesn't hurt their brand Value further. Honda can withdraw as an Manufacturer and just stay on board as a title sponsor. We have had Redbull cars branded as infiniti(Nissan brand) even with Renault engines. This i feel will be acceptable to both Honda and Mclaren. A divorce would get really messy and might involve litigation for breach of contract. Even if there is a performance clause attached to their tie up, I dont think they can break away without giving sufficient notice. The obvious solution is to write off this season and use it as an extended test session as there are no more tokens to hold Honda back unlike the pervious two years. In fact i think maybe by the mid season they can get their PU to respectable levels if they are only willing and open to hire external help. But this solution will not be acceptable to Mclaren or Alonso as there is no guarantee that it will work this year or next year. Their main issues is that they are chasing a moving target. The moment they think they have caught up to Mercedes, Ferrari or Renault the competition have already moved the goal post beyond their reach. It would make sense for them to buy their own team like maybe Sauber or at least get one or more teams to run their engines so they could learn more from the extra mileages. Remember Mercedes has had 4 teams inculding thier own running their engine in 2014 so even if one car had issues on a test day you had 3 other cars on track garnering valuble information and stressing the components.

Mclaren cant afford another white wash season. Without the performance bonus, the prospects of losing Honda funding and no title sponsor, it wont be long before they might be forced to abandon their F1 project. And F1 cant afford to lose a marque team like Mclaren


The BMW engine that powered the F1 was badged as BMW.

That being said, it's fine for McLaren to rebadge an engine because they don't make engines. Why would Mercedes allow Honda, with their reputation as it is now, rebadge a Mercedes engine as a Honda? And for Honda to accept that is an insult to their own supposed engineering prowess. That's admitting that while they are an engine manufacturer, they can't really do it that well so they have to take another manufacturer's engine and rebadge it. Honda would sooner withdraw from F1.


I cannot imagine a rebadging exercise no


@ James....renault don't seem to mind all that much?


Renault / Infinity / Nissan are part of the same company though. This would never be an option for Honda.


At least a supply of '16 engines would last the distance but then again maybe not, as the engines now have to last a lot longer, and the '16 engines would need to beefed up....if at all possible.


I'd take the nuclear option and ditching Honda now. Honda have been an embarrassment to F1 for a very long time now and there is no sign of improvement.

Taking a Ferrari engine though should be a red line (excuse the pun). McLaren under Ron Dennis had the ambition of being the British answer to Ferrari, if the new leadership thinks it is acceptable for them to be powered by their chief rival then McLaren have entered a pretty weak new era.

Ricki Sanguinetti

Option3 and start the grounds work for 2018.


Alonso is gone whatever option is taken; If Honda goes and McLaren adopt a Mercedes engine, why would he want to stay in a McLaren/Mercedes when he could quite easily be in a works Mercedes? McLaren may well say they would be winning with a Mercedes engine in the back right now, but truth be told, the Chassis hasn't been pushed anywhere near the limit these past two years so there has to be question marks over the chassis design philosophy as well.
As for Honda suffering embarressment under James given Option 3, if they can't fix the vibration issue and turn up the power output, they will be lapping a good couple of seconds off the pace ... wouldn't this be a worse embarrassment for Honda, to be seen every fortnight finishing last (if they finish races at all)? Cutting ties earlier and walking away probably saves greater face and being Japanese, this will be important to them ...


Option 1 - because, the Token System is gone, So Honda can keep trying varied concepts this year. In the face of adversity, brilliant things can come out.

Also since Honda has already ruined 2017 chances, they could try out and TEST concepts so experimental that the already stable Merc Ferrari Renault trio wouldnt dare to even conceptualise! Maybe they can find something beyond belief good.

USING a Mclaren like a Petty Test MULE - is it ethical? Well why not, they pay Mclaren tons of money and Mclaren was more than happy to have its expenses ( both basic and exotic ) bank rolled by Honda. A wedding perhaps this is not, more like being a 'KEPT' with some promise of a great Marriage in the Future.


The only objection to your idea is that you should realize that Honda have already used McLaren as a petty test mule for both 2015-2016 (less in 2016 but still).
And where that got them? Nowhere! They are at square one again...after 36 months they can't make a bloody engine work properly.
Mercedes aced the task from the get go, Ferrari started well, fell behind only to recover this year, smoking the track (in the good sense) and Renault, they had a lot of problems, their partnership with Red Bull being in place only because the other manufacturers refused Red Bulls calls for an engine, and as we saw in Spain this year Renault really improved, maybe even catching Mercedes - as we heard, teams are happy with the engine they provide.

Meanwhile in Japan everybody is trying to save the appearances while their "hamster" is so long dead that the whole car started to stink from it.
Apologies won't help, they need to start opening up and look for help - Gilles Simon leaving wasn't good news either, they need all the help they can get.


Stick with Honda, they'll get it right eventually- even if they produce two new engines per month throughout this year, penalties aside.

Doesn't matter if Alonso stays. Until the car is capable, he's not getting on the podium anyway. And where can he realistically go next year? Who needs his expensive hands to make the difference in the standings? Neither red bull nor Merc would see appreciable increases in points, and he's burned his Ferrari bridges. Neither Williams nor FI could afford him. He may as well stay in Woking


They should wait until mid season break,evaluate how much progress Honda has made and then take their decision regarding whether to continue this partnership or not for 2018.Mid-season change is totally impractical.
On long term Mclaren must think about making their own F1 engine if they really want a manufacturer's benefit and prepared themselves as such for next engine cycle(some 5-6 years away i presume).


James why don't McLaren ask Ferrari for a PU in 2018?


What??? no no no no no no no, and everytime Macca gets on the podium then Ferrari can celebrate too, noways man...


McLaren has been the arch-enemy of Ferrari since coming on the scene. I don't see how they could possibly go with Ferrari.


They could but no-one has won with a customer Ferrari engine, except Vettel Toro Rosso in the rain Monza 2008

Renault customers have won many races and world championships

No-one has won with customer Mercedes while Mercedes themselves had a works team


James, Mclaren did beat the works merc team in 2012 and actually won races same thing in 11 and 10 seasons as well


Is Renault a possibility?I mean have they the capacity to supply a 4th team?


Yes definitely

Only thing is staffing, they have fewer people than Ferrari and Mercedes