Last dance for Honda and McLaren in F1 – What are your abiding memories?
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Nov 2017   |  4:56 pm GMT  |  240 comments

Abu Dhabi this weekend marks the final outing for the ill fated McLaren-Honda partnership after three seasons. It is a momentous date for the Japanese manufacturer as it marks their 400th Grand Prix start this weekend.

There has been plenty of glory along the way in Honda’s various appearances in F1 – 1964-68 as a team; as an engine supplier from 1983-92, and again as an engine supplier and then a team from 2000-08 – but not this time around.

The last three seasons have been disastrous for the company’s reputation and the divorce with McLaren was a sad but inevitable consequence.

The best results were a pair of 5th places in Monaco and Austin 2016. This year’s best result was 6th place in Hungary.

So what are your abiding memories of this star-crossed marriage?

For many the defining image is Fernando Alonso stretched out in a deck chair after breaking down in Brazil. The Spaniard has also memorably criticised the Honda engine on the team radio a few times.

On the positive side, Alonso was the only non Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari driver to top the time sheets in an F1 session this season, setting the fastest time in Q1 at Silverstone.

How could something so right go so wrong?

Together with McLaren they have made 140 starts and while the first era from 1988-92 brought victories and three world championships for Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, the 2015 and 2017 seasons are the two worst in McLaren’s modern history.

Honda had a torrid time in 2015 having underestimated the time necessary to master the F1 hybrid turbo technology. They struggled for power and for deployment from the Energy Recovery System. 2016 saw progress and everyone expected a step up, closer to the benchmark in 2017.

But they had made a fundamental mistake in doing a whole new engine; a mistake they will not make again from 2017 to 2018. Sources with knowledge of the programme suggest that they also empowered young engineers on leading the design of the 2017 engine, with not enough experienced engineers giving input.

Yusuke Hasegawa

“From last year to this year, we have completely changed the configuration concept of the engine,” said Honda’s F1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa. “We tried to do a little bit too much, the modification, so that’s why I have decided to keep the concept for next year, so that from a reliability point of view we are pretty much confident.

“So we need to squeeze more performance from the same concept of the engine, so that’s what we are currently doing.”

Where do they go from here?

“I am incredibly proud of how hard everyone in the team has worked this this season,” said Hasegawa.

“I hope that we can end the year on a high, not just for them, but also for the McLaren Honda fans around the world that have supported us during the last three seasons.”

Next season Honda will partner with Toro Rosso, while McLaren will move to the Renault engine, which has won three races and scored 11 podiums this season. The team and drivers have said that these results, achieved by the Red Bull Racing team, provide a benchmark and a goal for them next season.

In recent races there have been signs that the Honda engine is improving, albeit that the drivers are still obliged to take new parts and penalties. Getting the parts to perform and last the required distance will be Honda’s challenge.

Brazil was a stronger race, with Fernando Alonso able to battle all race with Felipe Massa’s Williams and Sergio Perez’ Force India.

Other lasts in Abu Dhabi include Felipe Massa’s last race (after an unexpected comeback); potentially Pascal Wehrlein’s last F1 race for a while; the last race for US TV network NBC Sports (next season the coverage in the US will be on ESPN).

What do you think of the McLaren- Honda partnership and what are your abiding memories? Leave your comments in the section below

Featured Innovation
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

"GP2 engine!"


Absolutely spot on ! the first thing that comes to mind.
Also, Alonso trying to push the car back into the pit lane in Hungary, was it ?


Actually, "No!" I think that is the whole trouble. These PU's are so complex. Honda totally underestimated the work needed. Also, I think there is a cultural problem there. The same culture that dominated in the late 80s built a weedy V8. When they put a Mercedes in the car for 2009 it won the championship.

Maybe it's a bit like car design now. It's so complex! Adrian Newey is now really the only bog name designer, and I think the reason for that is he is so good working with a large team!

Remember the days of Murray, Barnard, Chapman, etc.? No longer.


First how this mess blew up and eventually caused Hasegawa to out the complexity and level of engine mode automation, perhaps unintentionally after all the Alonso shots fired at Honda.

The story of Honda PU software overwriting Alonso's inputs (2x WDC let us remember) had me dropping my jaw in 1) disgust 2) amazement at how little coverage that got. The engine modes in these PUs are nothing short of a scandal, but it was nearly completely ignored by the media. In fact, IT WAS ignored by the media, because it is legal I guess. But is it right? Does Ronaldo have his shoe mode take over his foot, overwriting his input? Does Nadal have a his inputs overwritten by his racquet ECU? Do we watch to see which driver got the best software writing team to tailor the modes to each track? Is that today's F1? It was only a news outlet publishing the complete Hasegawa post Spa quote that shined a bit of light into what engine modes really do.

Second, how little impact this Honda F1 mis-adventure with McLaren had on Honda car sales. Hitting records over the past year and putting Honda at #4 world wide. The only unfortunate thing is that every single one of those Honda car buyers threw in a few hundred toward this F1 program for a total of zero reasons and absolutely no purpose. Isn't it amazing that we pay for the very marketing we dislike? Just imagine how much money from each Rolex goes towards those trackside ads. Don't those ads make the watches so much better? 🙂

Honorable mention - The Windy Test. The Broken Wind. The Time Traveler's Mystery. The Crashing Start. What really happened that windy February 2015 day? Come on Alonso, Ron is gone, Honda is can tell us now. James, get the truth on this for us. I think Alonso is ready to spill it.


Spot on Sebee!


Sebee, I completely missed any coverage of ECU "over-riding" Alonso's inputs - where can I read up?


This whole thing is about the pre set deployment of the ers. Sebee got his knickers in a twist and decided that basically the car is driving itself, and that they all have traction control now! The reality is the ers deployment is limited to 33 seconds per lap by regulation, and there will be particular points around the circuit where it is most beneficial in terms of lap time for it to be used, this deployment can be pre set to save the drivers having to remember to press the button in the right place. The pre set deployment can be overridden by the drivers if thay want to use the ers strategically in attack or defence and it was a conflict between these two systems that caused Fernando's problem in Spa. It is worth remembering that the ers is only 160 bhp out of around 1000, and the drivers have to manage the 800+bhp from the ice themselves.


The reality is the ers deployment is limited to 33 seconds per lap by regulation, and there will be particular points around the circuit where it is most beneficial

You are bang on the money here Tim, here is an excerpt from Mark Hughes race report rom Spa where he confirms exactly what you are saying (both about the mapping and the over ride facility).

5) The crucial power de-rate

Mercedes had worked away all weekend at a little tweak to the ers-K mapping. On a normal lap, the electrical energy boost cuts out some way short of the end of Kemmel straight. Keeping it deployed for the last 10 per cent or so of that straight yields hardly any lap time. As it is limited, it’s far better to save it for use where it will deliver greater lap time gain – like the exit of Pouhon, for example. That’s the conventional way of setting up such a system at Spa, and that’s why Vettel’s engine de-rated towards the end of the straight. But Mercedes had a setting that allowed its drivers to override that cut-out at the crucial moment such as this – and that’s why Hamilton’s extra grunt kept coming as Vettel’s ran out. On such details can races be won.

Case closed....oh wait it's Sebee, my mistake 😉


Cheers C63! I would be surprised if the Ferrari drivers can't override their system, maybe Seb forgot....


maybe Seb forgot....

Or maybe his engineer forget to tell him what to do - after all the engineers are the real stars who just programme the Cars which anyone could drive 😂


C63, yes apparently that's true, funny how they programme one Merc to drive itself faster than the other though....


TimW, are you really going to sit here and tell us that a Formula 1 team deploys their ERS when there is any slippage on the drive shaft it is directly attached to? That the system doesn't disengage automatically when there is slippage on the drive shaft it is attached to? Or that regeneration remains engaged if engaging it locks up the drive shaft it connects to?

Any team not optimizing traction in the hybrid ERS and recovery components through software is a team that doesn't stand a chance of winning in this formula. To not recognize the obvious time gains through precision achieved by software automation in this PU hybrid system is foolish.


Sebee. I'm telling you that the ers would be deployed when the car is no longer traction limited anyway, so it is a moot point if the system would disengage if it detected slippage. I would have thought this would contravene the rules surrounding traction control, but as I said there is no need to be using ers on corner exit anyway.
The rest of you post is a mix of lots of technical terms that you don't appear to understand, and things that you have decided are true, but actually aren't.


things that you have decided are true, but actually aren't....

Some things never change....


Right, instant torque electric power, and an F1 team will use it AFTER ICE accelerated the car? Right TimW.


Sebee, yes instant torque, but a tiny amount in comparison to what the ice thumps out! The teams will use it whenever the most opportune moment is, and with only 33sec out of a typical 75 sec lap, there is no need to be using it untill traction is no longer a problem. I don't suppose you have any evidence at all to support your 'traction control' theory.....


You know when the most opportune moment is to deploy instant torque power?

Under acceleration!


Sebee, when on a straight, an F1 car is always accelerating.With the amount of downforce generated the traction limited zone is tiny, a few metres from the corner exit and that's it. No need to be using ers in this zone.


The reality is the ers deployment is limited to 33 seconds per lap by regulation, and there will be particular points around the circuit where it is most beneficial in terms of lap time for it to be used, this deployment can be pre set to save the drivers having to remember to press the button in the right place.

It's a shame the drivers don't have full control over when to use it. And on top of that just have it available the whole time not 33 seconds.


All this talk of de-rate, limited full power delivery, it makes me wonder if the 33s is actually sustained or combined.

Is it short few seconds at a time, as that's all that's needed in F1, then regeneration, and deployment of that regenerated power, for a total of 33s? This isn't clear to me, still.


NickH, the drivers do have full control, they can over ride the pre set facility if the want to save it for an overtaking move on the main straight. I thought I saw something in the proposed regs for next year that would let them save it up over an entire lap to use more than 33secs on the next lap?


No driver is manually deploying it TimW. It's all engine mode controlled.


Sebee, again, that is something you have decided isvtrue, but actually isn't.


How about a % of time it is deployed automatically by software each weekend.

Let's start negotiations 99% of the time software deploys ERS. Do we have a deal?


Sebee. It depends on the track, and wether or not the driver is in combat. You really are making a mountain out of a molehill with this one, it's 15% of the total power available.


If it's so meaningless, why is there so much development and effort around this area of engine modes?


Sebee, I didn't say it was meaningless, just that it is a small percentage of the overall power produced. A lot of effort goes into it because this is the way of it in F1.


I think this is what Sebee is referring to. (

Apologies for posting a link. I hope it is ok


You'll have to dig. I just googled and can't find the article.

Here is a little snippet from one of my comments during the period I posted in a Spa article:

That lack of boost had Alonso immediately radio in that he had lost half a second on that lap, and it kept him out of the Q3 qualifying shootout.
Honda, which has been the target of Alonso's criticism the entire season, totally owned the issue. Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda's F1 Chief ,confirmed that to Motorsport:

"We set a segment to when we have the deployment, and normally that segment is divided by the throttle," he said when asked by

"Sometimes a driver is making a different operation, so that makes the system confused and we didn't have deployment at some certain area."


How that reads to me is that the battery deployment is automated but driver input can override the auto mode otherwise Alonso’s deployment would have occurred regardless.
In other words the quote you dug up to prove your point actually disproves your whole argument. No point going on any more you are wrong ( actually you were always wrong) you need to find something new to harp on about endlessly.
Que some strange interpretation of the quote by Sebee.


It was something along the lines of the ECU couldn't believe that Alonso could go through a corner that fast, got confused and went into limp-mode, I think.


Well put Sebee. I wonder if you could quantify the driver’s ability and the machine’s ability, how the V6 1.6L turbo era F1 would look.


FZ, this has to be a sign! F1 simulator job going to a gamer who never in his life drove an F1 car? As bata testing for engine modes most likely, because F1 skills don't matter anymore?


Actually Sebee, this gamer (Rudy van Buren) competed in several carts chamionships, he won the Dutch championship and became 3rd in the German championship in 2006 but in the end had to quit due to lack of I guess he has some skills.


Yes, he has karting experience decade ago. This is the qualification that makes him perfect for a Formula 1 simulator gig? Or is it his software skills?


"F1 skills don't matter anymore ". Thats quite a leap Sebee!!


Guy gets full time F1 simulator job based on his software control/interaction experience. Not because he ever drove an F1 car, or any F car.

No leaps at all.


Sebee. Is it full time? Is he doing any performance work? Is he going to be McLaren's only sim tester, or will they have others who do have F1 skills? All good questions, that you don't have the answers to.


Dude....the fact he's hired instead of an F1 driver should tell you enough.


A good racing driver does not necessarily make a good simulator driver. Similarly a good simulator driver is not guaranteed to do well racing. The demands are different, the engineers need consistency in order to do comparisons. Ultimate Speed and race craft are not required for most simulator work.


Sebee, instead of, or as well as?


instead of, or as well as?

I cannot speak definitively for McLaren but iirc it was reported that Mercedes ran their simulator 24/7 for around 11 days after the problems they had at Monaco. That would be quite a shift for just one man - it's quite clear that the teams (particularly the bigger teams like McLaren) have a number of drivers they use in their simulators. This gamer that McLaren have just hired (which Sebee has decreed is clear evidence of all that is wrong with F1) will undoubtedly be one of a number of drivers they use. No big deal - apart for the fellow who got the job, I expect he thinks it's a big deal 🙂


C63, that guy would have had square eyes after his eleven day shift! I'm pretty sure that multiple drivers are used, as you say a big deal for the competition winner, but we don't know what he will actually be doing yet do we?


Ronaldo and Nadal can perform on the basis of their own abilities alone...on the other hand, if the horse is rubbish, no jockey in the world can get it to win the Melbourne Cup.
And before you repeat yourself (and despite your desires) the world is not going to start going backwards so no, it is not really possible to roll back technologically and bring back the V8s with which Vettel won his world championships.


So once you test one nuke, you may as well go forward as all other weaponry is backwards, go to war and fire all nukes, no going back no matter how much of a mess you end up with in this case or with F1? 😉


I see where you're coming from, but your point is a little over the top. See my comment below for more details, but as long as there is a lack of standardisation, there WILL be competitive differences. These differences WILL be greater closer to the introduction of new regulations and technology and progressively reduce thereafter provided there is stability. As can be seen currently, Ferrari is more or less (not exactly) there with Merc and Renault is relatively close behind. Contrast that with the first couple of years and you get the picture.
I am almost certain that we will continue to see a difference in performance when the new regs take effect in 2021.


Another leap!


If we can't turn the clock back....why are jockeys still racing horses?

Why is Archery still a thing?


Well, we don't exactly have to light a wood fire to cook or hand crank our cars anymore, isn't it?


Once again, may I point out:

Top selling AMG engine: V8, and has been through the entire PU era (V12 also available on many models if you wish). There is no Hybrid AMG car, none of this "F1" PU technology is used in hybrid cars, which existed for well over a decade before F1 went hybrid, and also now Mercedes is here advertising Mercedes AMG EQ Power+, which doesn't exist as a product and the first EQ Power car will come out in 2019, a 100% electric SUV - that's so F1, right?

McLaren (any current models): all V8s

Ferrari most installed engine: V8, V12 model is still available and recently announced, sure last one they say (for now), but available and here for your enjoyment.


All Ferrari models will be hybrids by 2019, Merc AMG hybrid already announced.


Give it some time and the road cars will catch up, as they always have historically. I can't recollect Ferrari having a KERs equivalent in their road cars until after it was introduced in F1.


Mercedes Project One is coming. $3M, right? Landing 2019? Latest greatest most road relevant technology that can only be applied to this limited run marketing exercise.

I told you that before that car arrives something will happen that will make it irrelevant. And what happened last week? Tasla Roadster, $250,000, 1.9s to 100km, 8.9s standing 1/4 mile, 250mph+ speed, 600 mile range. 2+2 configuration - 4 passenger - actually useful family car. 7,376 ftlbs of torque at the wheels - make good friends with your tire dealer!

Thanks for coming out latest and greatest Formula 1 technology. I'll take 12 Tesla Roadsters in stead - one in each available color combination please.

Oh, and in case you doubt it, that Roadster that's coming in short 2 or 3 years will be fully autonomous too. You can be sure of that. You'll be able to take all 12 with you to the track at once!


Horse in Melbourne cup isn’t man made mate, these PUs are, which has taken over the sport. Last horse to win win back to back Melbourne Cup was Makybe Diva, in F1 2nd or 3rd team barely had a sniff at the championship in over a decade. These PUs, particularly the Mercs (credit to them for doing the best job) has rewritten the history of dominance in F1. I’m not sure it’s the question of going back, nor it will solve the problem. Its the matter of media pointing out the biggest problem in F1 today, which is the engine for the rule makers to take notice.


Merc assembled the best team it could to design the new PU in order to gain an advantage.
Now, how is that any different to Red Bull assembling the best aero team to gain an advantage? Red Bull did the better job with the aero and the other teams struggled to keep up let alone match them.
Any time there is a major rule change one team does a better job and dominates for a period, that is Always going to happen.
So why is it that the people calling out for closer racing are also calling out for major rule changes. The two are unfortunately mutualy exclusive.
Rule stability Will bring close racing.
It allows the teams with smaller budgets the opertunity to develop a car over many years and catch the factory teams who can afford to do it all at once.


Horse in Melbourne cup isn’t man made mate

Not in a strictly literal sense perhaps - but the horses that run in such races are not the result of random encounters either. They are also fed, trained and cared for in a manner that you would have to see in order to believe. The point made by the original poster is completely valid.


Not in any sense C63. EG: look up a great documentary in Australia about McDonald’s produce done by Chanel 9. The cows are very well fed, well looked after, grow in great environment, killed in human ways, best cuts are used. Doesn’t make McDonald’s very healthy dietary.


Doesn’t make McDonald’s very healthy dietary

Eh? You've lost me. The point being made originally was that Jockeys need a decent mount if they are to win races - you rejected this analogy on the basis that cars are man made and horses are not. Personally I think there a number of similarities between car racing and horse racing - the drivers and riders both progress to the better 'rides' based on how good they are and the best cars and the best horses are made by the best teams and trainers. They even refer to the area where the cars and horses are kept using the same word - paddock. Scuderia translates literally as stable - need I go on?


What does a winning horse do after their racing days are done? That's right, they're bred with other winning horses to hopefully make even quicker horses. All of that breeding is controlled by man.


McDonald analog is my counter to your horses being grass fed theory.

I don’t see any relevance what so ever to the Melbourne Cup horses to F1 cars. You can always links to everything. Everything on planet earth connected one way or another. You can create a horse, you create an engine. Another thing we will always disagree on I guess.


my counter to your horses being grass fed theory.

What grass fed theory ? I have not submitted one.


I am a little bit sick of the constant whinging and demands to go back to yesteryear - and there is a lot of it.
As long as (and wherever) there is a lack of standardisation (like in F1), there will be competitive differences. This differentiation is only magnified by the constant chopping and changing of regulations. History indicates there is a very high likelihood that if rules and regulations were left unchanged (for longer than they have been recently) there will be a convergence in performance.
Technology will not stand still therefore by definition any manufacturer who has resources and has been in F1 for a while will be hard to beat by any newcomer (even in a stale regulatory environment). I can't even remember of the top of my head when was it last that an independent engine manufacturer won a race/championship. The point is the established manufacturers will always have an upper hand and this is only going to get worse as technology advances. Therefore unless F1 stood still (or went back) technologically OR introduced standardisation of complex technology areas (e.g. the MGU-H), there will continue to be stand out performers. The only change that will result from making any other changes to regulations is which one of the manufacturers is top gun.


Not sure many people suggesting to go back to the way it was. The fundamental issues are giving manufacturers total control that includes all engine suppliers. As a result even teams like RB and McLaren are in dsadvantage. Also the idea of these change was to cut cost, instead it increased, gotta acknowledge the hypocrisy here. Then, listen to the whistle!! Commodore R8 sounds better than these cars. And top it all of, all of these changes are about something the fans can’t see, the engines. These are fundamental problems let alone any of the technical issues Sebee mentioned.


Hey Sebee
I hadn't paid much attention to the power mode thing, thought it was interesting at the time.
Looking at what is known now, I am wondering why you think it is scandalous

From what I can see, yasegawa's comment was something along the lines that they were expecting a lift in Pouhon, didn't see one, and there was a resulting lack of deployment a corner or two later.

Now, there is an interesting debate on reddit, but not much else. Most people debating whether throttle traces are the best way to determine the cars location or not.

But I was thinking, if there is obvious downsides to using throttle events to control this, why would they do that? I think that what they are actually doing here is, predicting which of the drivers throttle Events require deployment and which require harvesting. I guess they got out of sequence at pouhon.

You see, i think their ECU will absolutely need to know whether or not to deploy AS the driver hits the pedal and not 10 metres later or earlier, which would be based on position, distance from start etc.

I don't think it comes down to Honda overwriting his inputs, rather, Honda not giving him deployment as expected after a throttle input because their ECU lost track of which Trottle on event they were up to.

Do you think I've got it wrong?


I am wondering why you think it is scandalous

Because it's not a V8 or, even better a V10 - duh 😉
Strangely though, he didn't find anything even remotely scandalous about the use of traction control overriding the throttle demands made by the drivers in the car's of yesteryear. Apparently that was just fine and in no way did it diminish the achievements of even a 7x WDC (let alone a 2x WDC).


How convenient C63 that you are unable to distinguish traction control from autonomous software application of acceleration.

While they both exist in the grey zone, and let me be clear, I'm no fan of TC either, one limits the application of power when adhesion is lost, the other is pre-programmed automated deployment of power input without driver's specific decision to do so, but rather a pre-set. While both prevent a mistake and are definitely a driver aid, one is a preventative measure while the other is more of a proactive measure. It could even be argued that TC was a safety measure. What's key is, if TC was deemed to take away from driver skill and abilities and banned, how is this automated ERS not in the very least the same?

As I said, they both exist in the grey zone, but one is much darker shade of grey than the other. My argument is clear - neither should exist in F1.

And remember, the erosion/transition from non-automation to automation happens one shade of grey at a time. Random, can you stop yourself from any 50 shades jokes? The setup here is a wide open net. 🙂



This is a case of tomato, tomato.

If the car is not deploying as expected, the car is overwriting driver inputs, or what driver wants the car to do. That's the bottom line.

We're talking about ERS deploying under acceleration as mapped by software, which means acceleration is actually controlled by engine mode. We're talking about recovery engaged by software, which also influences braking forces. I also believe the more clever team control ideal brake bias turn by turn via the recovery engagement, or not or amount of power they choose to recover in a particular braking zone. We're talking about engine modes telling drivers when to shift via shift lights, which no longer correspond to any actual fixed RPM value.

Deployment of ERS (read: acceleration), deployment of regeneration (read braking/brake bias), software instructing drivers when to shift, software taking away any creativity away from drivers in terms of adjusting to opportunity/style or how they take the lap because to do so means to confuse the software running the whole show. This is a good thing?

We bounced off theories here in the comment gallery about why it is based on need for robotic predictable driver inputs and not GPS, and it has to do with GPS latency. I bet you the smart teams have set up some type of lap reset procedure, so a driver can press a button on the start finish straight marker to reset the software loop for the lap in case it gets confused.

Bottom line: Software in the ECU is replacing software in the Driver Brain like never before, belittling the drivers like never before.


Crap in = crap out
Basically, the output that you generate from your analysis is only as good as tha raw data you start with.
Your wild statements that the software is applying torque without any driver input is complete nonsense. Torque is applied to the rear wheels by the ICE and/or the electric motor in direct response to the driver pressing his right foot down. The only thing the software does is determine how much torque comes from the ICE and how much from the electric motor in accordance with the preset map and/or driver override.


This is why F1 needs a simple engine that is attached directly to the throttle. Light, inexpensive, simple. Nothing else is needed, and certainly not fuel saving.


It's weird how Alonso's car drives him around faster than Vandoorne, Hamilton's faster than Bottas and Vettel's faster than Raikkonen. I wonder how fast the car would drive you around? If they programmed it right you could be world champion.


Vettel and Raikkonen? I didn't address it below.

Up vote this comment if you think Raikkonen was hired as a clear #2.


Basil, do you think Honda was jumping up and down and customizing to Vendoorne's preference? Or are they putting more weight on Alonso's feedback? Who's feedback did they prioritize?

Does Vendoorne have to adopt to the way Alonso had the software customized, or dose Alondo have to adopt to Vendoornes?

Don't think various dynamics don't play a role here. They do, and if you can push your weight around, you do it. I bet you Honda is much more accommodating to what Alonso wants from this system, and Vandoorne in his first year just doesn't have enough baseline knowledge or leverage to get it his own way.

If your comparison is based on this duel, it's not relevant.

Same with Bottas and Hamilton. Was there ever doubt that Bottas wasn't going be allowed to challenge Hamilton? Just think of that outcome - Bottas comes in and beats Hamilton first year at Mercedes? The same Hamilton who carries a huge amount of fans on his shoulders? You think Formula 1 undermines that? You think Mercedes undermines that? Who's more marketable? Bottas or Hamilton? Bottas was hired to be #2 a la Kovalainen, and that he is. He's been given a bit of early success to legitimize him in fan's eyes, but that's as far as it goes. He's just not interesting enough or charismatic enough to carry Formula 1 as a Hamilton beater. That's the hard truth.


So why was Ricciardo allowed to come into RBR and beat Vettel in his first year? Why would F1 allow that?? Vettel surely had far more fans (both then and still now) than Ricciardo.


We will never know. Just like we don't know if they both get the same engine modes.


I get what u mean, I just don't see it the same way. I don't think it's overriding his inputs, it's just not deploying at the right time. He still decides when to open the throttle, and how far. For me, that system (when it works) is just harvesting in the optimal place, and deploying in the optimal place. If it works well, the driver still drives it. If not, he loses laptime. He still has to handle 700bhp on some exits and 850bhp on others, more engine braking in some corners and less in others. If that's the case, doesn't it require more skill to get the most out of that lap? At the very least, he will need it to be consistent.

Regarding resets, I would imagine the location will be reset several times automatically. The ecu just needs to know what to on the next on / off throttle event, in order to be consistent for the driver and optimise for the lap.



I don't disagree with you, it is a grey issue. We like black and white, but they want to keep it grey.

As we know, Formula 1 is all about lap time. To you optimal place deployment and harvesting is no big deal. To me, when that's pre-programmed it is automation and not the driver doing this. Is this a normal function of the car? Is this comparable to other ECU functions? I don't believe so. I agree that there are things in the car a driver can't control, but I feel there should be clarity around these functions and they could easily be simplified and put under driver control. ERS should be deployed manually by driver (as is being proposed for post 2021) and recovery should be a fixed value at all times under all braking applications - that would go a good distance to address this issue. Better yet, no changing engine modes during Grand Prix. Just like you have a fixed ratio on the gearbox, fixed engine mode for the season. Huge savings too - eliminating all this software writing each weekend.

As for you point out, the driver has to handle that. But does he really now? Does he fully? Sure the driver presses the throttle and brakes at certain points around the lap. But as I told you, depending on the engine mode the LEDs on his wheel tell him when to shift. These LEDs don't mean redline RPMs, they mean shift at this point for our PU target delta under this engine mode. And drives do as they are told. So here is another thing out of the driver's control - he's an operator, but not the decision maker on when to shift and why. Of course that's to avoid a public failure or embarrassment of running out of fuel. Have you noticed how no car has ever run our of fuel in the PU era?

The point is simple: Engine Modes exist because there is a performance gain in them. Team invest in them because there is ROI in lap time. It also means that the driver out there, well, outside of crashing, it's not in his hands at all really. It's actually less and less in his hands, and he can make fewer and fewer mistakes and needs to make fewer and fewer decisions. Team gets to regain some of that control, but it comes at a cost. That cost is, driver matters less in the whole equation of what's on the track. Recent detailed analysis put it at 10% driver contribution, and I've argued it is likely less than that.

Another example of this is when Max was accused of being hard on the equipment with all the failures. Max said people don't know what they are talking about, it is impossible for him for example to do anything to blow up a PU on the track or exceed preset limits. That's already confirming that in the very least there are parameters that prevent driver mistakes - and isn't that a factor in racing as well? And it's being controlled and eliminated via automation and software. We are automating the humanity away in F1. The racing is no longer about human vs. human, it is about engine mode vs. engine mode, these tires vs. those tires, what delta this team will allow vs. what delta that team will allow and of course DRS vs. no DRS. We need to return more to human vs. human, driver vs. driver. That’s why we watch.


Neil, you really are wasting your time.....


Yes software means a lot. I hear people in the UK and California are good at that but Japan not so much.

I don't know but maybe Honda needs help from Google.


Excellent post.
And what "road relevancy" did this F1 campaign bring to Honda - None. Zilch. They were one of the few companies who bought Hydrogen cars a decade back and now stuck with this trolley engines.
I would have loved for them to commit suicide and get out of F1 rather than tolerate all the abuse and vitriol they got.


What's interesting too is that Honda is dropping V6 options from volume cars like the Accord.


Like every manufacturer is doing, downsizing is a hype


Maybe the rules need to be changed to use plutonium. It might be as cheap as what we have now.


Yes, it's glaringly obvious Honda got it wrong. There is some light at the end of the tunnel...but how long is that tunnel? Let's hope next year's PU won't have a hodge podge of ideas and components from Honda, HRD, Mclaren, and 3rd parties.

Mclaren seemed to be going the way of Williams, even before this Honda mess. I guess we'll see next year what they are really worth as a team. Maybe they'll get some GP2 pit crews to help them improve. I think they'll be fighting it out with Renault and FI for points.


If you look at what Vandoorne and Alonso have managed to do with the slowest engine on the grid on their rare good days, it looks like McLaren are very talented and ready to score with Renault.


I think Honda will come good in 2021 well 50/50 anyhow. Toyota dominated NASCAR this year. Chevy may have an answer next year and believe it or not it's all aero.

Toyota changed their production car so they could use the shape for NASCAR. Chevy for 2018 is simply switching to the Camaro. HAAS may not have a chance as Ford is doing nothing.

There is too much complicated aero in F1 too. NASCAR seems simple but just a small piece of tape in the right place can make a huge difference but the cars are enclosed. F1 has some really big tires making a wake.


I’m not as optimistic as you are about Honda. Mainly because they recently failed as a manufacturers team, as works team and using the similar model as RB (Honda and Super Aguri). And 2021 is too far away. Who knows what happens by then.


I tend to agree; now that Honda have separated themselves from the suffocating partnership with McLaren AND have had 3 years to understand the level they need to reach, they ironically have a much better chance of producing a truly competitive engine going forward.


"¡Gracias a Dios que nunca más tendré que conducir esa pieza de merda japonesa después del próximo fin de semana!"


Memories? Only Alonso constantly moaning and a very slow car. A complete waste of everyone's talent, time and effort.

I'm still astounded a company as large and successful as Honda could mess up so badly, so publicly, for so long.


I can't be the only fool who saw this coming back in 2013 when the partnership was announced??

I said at the time, McLaren-Honda in the late 80's hit the perfect storm. A brilliant team, best funded engine manufacturer against Renault, who had pulled out, BMW, had also left the sport, Ford with an underfunded programme and Ferrari reeling from the dying patriarch that year.

Add to that Prost and Senna, it was no surprise they dominated.

By 1992, Honda was withdrawing because Renault had surpassed them and ever since Honda has failed gloriously in their quest for F1 respectability!

My abiding memory this time? Rons arrogance crumbling throughout his tenure.


Media focused on Alonso way too much. In process no one seem to blame McLaren for anything. It was a partnership that the McLaren team bragged about like the next best thing since sliced bread. Of course Honda stuffed but, but do we really know how much McLaren stuffed up? We will find out next year in real.


I am just glad we won't have to listen to Alonso whinge any longer. That is until Melbourne when he does an MGU-H in his new Renault at turn 3 of the first lap!!!

A one word summary on Honda's presence in F1 in ANY year in the 2000s: abysmal


Here in California we recently visited one of only 5 'musical roads' in the world, this one at Lancaster. (Top Gear guys featured it a few years ago). It is supposed to play William Tell Overture, but sounds awful, most notes out of tune. (Google it). It was made by Honda..... Guess they couldn't even get THAT right!


There are roads around here that sound like heavy metal especially when two cars crash.


Obviously you forgot about Pirelli 🙂


With the Renault engine in the back it can only go better next year. At least the bearded champion himself believes so: "We are very optimistic that next year will be the year to come back at the top"


By the way....glory for Honda 2000-2008? Examples of the glory please.


ermmm...that Planet Earth landscape paint job was pretty glorious 😉

You are correct with the issues of automation of deployment with these bloomin PUs, but it also goes further when you have such differences between teams on the automated software deployment, say between the works Merc controlling their modes and their customer's modes and the dire Honda deployment which ran out before the end of the lap! ...good effort Alonso for the first 3/4 of a lap, sorry about the software, harvesting, auto deployment and PU ruining the rest of it though, but hey look on the bright side, you didn't need to push the thing back into the pit lane or look for a deck chair to watch the action.


Clarks, the level of control engine manufacturers have through these engine modes is incredible. Over their own drivers, over their customers.

Anyone who thinks they don't use that control is naive. This is the piranha tank, not the snuggle bear play pen.


Just checked........ Lots of money spent and an absolute embarrassment. When will the Japanese learn that it is ok to get some guidance?


The 2009 worked pretty good when a Mercedes engine was added. It wasn't a Honda but was originally designed for that power plant.


It's an interesting what if: Sure the Honda engine might not have been quite as good as the Mercedes (back then at least) but that car still had a killer chassis and with factory support and continued in season development they might still have gone on to win...but we'll never really know 🙂

What we do know for an absolute fact is that Honda screwed the pooch when they left the sport, and then when they came back they went and screwed it again.


For what it's worth, I remember an article I read at the time (F1 Racing I believe) where Brawn said they had significant problems incorporating the Mercedes engine into the chassis, and had to compromise the aero significantly to do so; he claimed they would have been further ahead if they still had the Honda engine in the back, but of course that's pretty unsubstantiated.


One of those years they were fighting with Ferrari. JB got his first podium, then his first win in a BAR Honda. Same team got Takuma Sato on the podium iirc, first Japanese driver to do so iirc? Not as glorious as the Senna/Prost years, but better than the last 3 lol.

Remember, they were a top 3 team, then they painted the cars like the earth, and wound up as backmarkers after 1 off season. They never recovered from that paint scheme.


You mean 2004 when Ferrari won all but 3 races (that was a very Mercedes PU era like year, but it was only 1 season...not 3 longer seasons like the 2014-2016 stretch).

That year Ferrari scored 262 points in WCC and Honda in 2nd 119. In a season when a win got you 10 points. So we can be forgiven for not remembering Honda. Mercedes looked at that season and said "Let's do that! Over and over again...again...again. It will drive viewership!"


Same team got Takuma Sato on the podium iirc, first Japanese driver to do so iirc?

Not quite...

"Aguri Suzuki became the first Japanese racer to score a podium in a World Championship race when he finished 3rd in his home race in 1990."


It may not have been glorious period for them, but it was still phenomenal compared to 2015-2017 😐


The 2004 season (second to Ferrari), Hungary 2006 and that's about it.


To paraprase Homer Simpson .Both people lying have to be in on the deal. Someone to lie and someone to be lied to.


Old quote: In a room full of liars it's impossible to determine who if anyone is telling the truth.


Honda's F1 heyday with Senna and McLaren was a long time ago. It's well past time to stop listening to Honda's words, and evaluate them on all their F1 iterations since then: BAR, Honda, McLaren. Terrible. With that, there's no basis to think things will improve.


Honda should have kept supplying Jordan and dropped BAR. No good reason to buy BAR, either. 20-20 hindsight of course.


Prost and Senna


...and Berger


I think my abiding memory is of the number of times the cars have ended up being wheeled into the garage or parked by the side of the track. That and Alonso's crash with Gutierrez in Melbourne last year

I really did think a year or two ago that it was destined for Hamilton to go back to McLaren after winning a few more titles with Merc so that he could win a title in a McLaren Honda like his idol Senna. How wrong I was...

I know a lot of people don't like Alonso but I think it's a shame as a spectator that he's been completely out of the picture for 3 years. Even with a Renault engine I have a feeling he'll never set foot on an F1 podium again.

On the plus side Gasly and Hartley are already well used to engine failures


Finally, both Honda and McLaren will breath a sigh of relief, more than anything else. McLaren has a big task ahead next year competing straight against RedBull and they would be secretly anxious about it. Bettering aerodynamics of Adrian Newey is going to be a herculean task for their team of engineers. I am wondering how Alonso is going to react if/when they fall short of expectations against the yardstick of RedBull.
As for Honda, they have just got the opportunity they dearly wished for. A second tier team with two drivers who are an unmeasured quantity (in F1). If early results are poor, it will be due to both engine and drivers in learning phase. If results start coming good, its Honda who has delivered and gets the praise. Frankly, apart from STR and may be Helmut Marko, nobody is going to watch for Gasly and Hartley, unless they bring some serious performance during races. Honda really needed this quiet period of development without overhanging sword of expectations from McLaren and Alonso. They need some time out of limelight to do serious execution and development. Good luck to them.


This is the mistake Honda made initially should have looked for a backmarker as well to help with development instead of the exclusive Mclaren deal.


Agreed. I think if they could do it all again knowing what they know now they would have started with supplying the engine to a backmarker team and working their way up. Unfortunately that wasn't the case and we all had great expectations for the combo of McHonda especially as they were a works team. I am confident Honda will do well next year and so will McLaren...Now if we could (off topic) get Williams back in the mix!


Alonso coming on TV (Sky Germany) and rating his opponents for next year. Lewis, Max and Daniel are first in line. Seb second line, with Kimi and Bottas. Surprising. Clearly Seb is not his good mate but rival respect, atleast.
Or he thinks, Renault engine is not going to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari and Lewis is going to have a really bad year (having to fight against Alonso). First part, quite likely; later part not quite.


Now that you mention it I was quite surprised by his line up...Must be noted that he put Vettel AFTER bottas and kimi as well. Grudge?


He put himself first, then Lewis, max, and Dan Ric next.
Seb,kimi and Bottas after.


I think Alonso picked himself and shuffled the cars deck. It wasn't serious.


No grudge, just the reality that Ferrari will figure out a way to blow it. Again.


Re Alonso rating his opponents... I'm sure Vettel is very worried about not being highly rated. Alonso's predictions about competitiveness have been spot on over the last decade. Oh. Wait.


Problem for Alonso is simple, he is at a point where the current talk is Hamilton vs Vettel after this it will be Max vs whoever challenges him.

Unfortunately for him the void left by Schumacher wasnt filled by him, while the press was blowing his trumpet Vettel came by and put paid to that hence the dislike of Vettel.


Substitute "Vettel" for "Newey" or "Newey's in-season development" or "Newey's blown diffuser" and you're there.

Alonso in place of Webber would have been mighty despite how well Webbo did in 2010, just as Alonso instead of Bottas would be mighty now.


Shall we replace Hamilton for Mercedes on the stats, as well?...I don't think so and same way, we shouldn't keep going on about Newey, when Mercedes dominance as a manufacturer has been quite bigger than Red Bull...


It's certainly easier to rate than to predict.


Rate what exactly?
He's in for a rude awakening next year the same way Redbull was touted in '16 to be Mercedes' main challenger this year.


The number of grid slots they lost due to engine penalties must be quite high. Will probably be one of those records that are hard to beat in the future.


Agreed - Does anyone know the actual number?


According to, the penalties up to and including Brazil (for 2017 alone) are as follows:

HONDA – 380




That's quite a tally for one season!


I'm shocked! I didn't realise Renault were nearly as bad.


Renault have 6 cars, Honda only 2.

It's high but that's 51.7 grid penalties per Renault powered car and 190 for each Honda if you average it out.

Not quite as bad.


Yep, it's a ridiculous amount.

The sooner Brawn (or anybody) comes up with a better solution the better.


Or another way of looking at things - if one of the McLarens took all their grid penalties at just one race, they'd start just over 3km behind the pole sitter !


Yep - If you shade your eyes and squint you can just see a beard frowning 🙂


Didn't they finish 3km behind pole sitter most races?


Even more compelling is when you divide the number of cars/teams that manufacturer is supplying engines to.


Wow, even with all the troubles they had this season I didn't expect Renault to be that close to Honda.


As dave points out above - you've also got to remember that it's McLaren alone who have taken the grid penalties. At least Renault has spread the load across several teams.


Probably felt like that to some drivers 🙂


Would have been much better to have been a reliable and competitive engine package -- especially with the apparent strength of the chassis. Let's cross our fingers for a more competitive unit for 2018.

As others have observed, sure hope that next year isn't where they finally get it close to right. Would be a bit of an irony.


I think Alonso's memories are more important than ours. I'd take a guess at them but I don't know how to swear in Spanish.

Tornillo Amarillo

This McLaren-Honda...
The last mistake of Ron Denis.
A profitable mistake for Alonso.
Not the last mistake for McLaren.
A boring spectacle of DNFs for fans.
A painful start of his F1 career for Vandoorne, but he has survived just for starting again.


You might want to check on Ron Dennis with regards to Honda, he didn't sign the contract.


And whose fault it was to bring this useless, complex, road relevant (really?!) engines to F1?
Certainly not Honda.


Carlos Ghosn’s fault. He threatened that Renault would stop making a F1 engine. He wanted a 4 cylinder turbo but settled for a V-6.


Nobody forced Honda to join up.
First year was a learning curve, but what happened after that is just incompetence.


Ross Brawn?

Cédric Baumgartner

Alonso taking provisional pole in Silverstone Q1! Will never forget that one!


You can only take provisional pole in Q3.


And the huge cheer that went up from the Silverstone crowd!


Yeah cos the true racing fans of Silverstone appreciate the mad skills of all F1 drivers rather than taking sides


Abiding memory of Honda's latest effort in F1? I think I'll quote the great poets Serj Tankian and Pvt Baldrick.
Boom Boom Boom
Boom Boom Boom.


It seems like a very long time since McLaren were any kind of force in F1, is it five tears since they last won a race? Seems incredible given their resources, same could be said for Honda of course! The time excuse has expired, they aren't even where Mercedes were three years ago!


Brazil 2012 was their last win, so almost exactly 5 years (25 November).


Makes you wonder why they are so convinced they will win with a Renault engine when they didn't manage it for two years with the Merc!


My "bold prediction" is McLaren finish fourth without any race wins.


It almost depends on how the Merc customer unit will be.

Tis bold, but mainly from a reliability point of view. Renault may be hiding behind Honda's mess for yet another year...


Ooh, I hope you're right !


Mclarens disaster with Honda has been the single most entertaining story of the last 3 seasons. I wonder where the interest will be in 2018, maybe just the casual fans disgust at the halo device when they see it for the first time.


It was about as entertaining as the 30-plus grid penalties that have become a feature of the hybrid era.


He likes to leave comment bait Luke - Ignore him.


Just how rude and disrespectful the McLaren staff are - this from a current employee!!!


More details please Jim...nothing for fascinating than getting an insiders view of F1. And is it a McClaren culture problem? It's interesting I work for airlines and see sporting teams travelling often. In Rugby League, it's always the teams that are polite onboard and when in the general public spaces of the airport that have the most success. And those showing arrogance and rudeness towards the "lesser" people around them are always the losers. See "NSW State of Origin Team" as the greatest example in modern memory.


Rude to who? Honda people? Each other? Other teams? Obviously your annonymity is paramount, but I'd be interested to hear you expand on this. My impression was that the McLaren could be quite quick with a better engine, but unhappy/unhealthy teams are seldom quick, and I'd have thought things would be on the up now the shadow of Ron is gone.


Ok I'll bite. Care to elaborate?


An exemplary proof of this failed V6 trolley engine-Duracell-hybrid era.
As a tifosi, I will be happy if we get out of F1 aka MMC from 2020 and start our own series, unless it is v10 or v12. Sergio should man-up and get us out on our own terms.


I think Liberty either ought to change nothing or look at an old rule book when F1 was most popular and use it.

But Ferrari and the rest don't want to go back. If they break off both series would fail.


Where to start.....
Ron Dennis going is still so wrong.
Fernando needs to stop eating breakfast with Zack Brown because he's starting to look a similar size.
Finally.....I've never been a fan of Fernando and he had a excellent chance to redeem himself on the oval in America,it was no surprise that his Honda engine let him down there too,but what did surprise me war that he didn't get out the car and start pummeling it with him helmet,that at least would have endeared I'm to me.


Sato won that race in a Honda powered car.


...but look how many other Hondas let go that race, not just Fernando's, and that's a simple unit compared to the F1 PU mess.


. . .no surprise that his Honda engine let him down there too . . .

But it didn't let Takuma Sato down. Remember him? He won the Indy 500 this year with a Honda engine.


I think the whole McHonda saga has been a shame really. It’s been totally embarrassing for Honda and the Japanese, and total humiliation for McClaren. Stinks of desperation that they’re changing to Renault next season, but what choice have they got I suppose. Seems like McClaren are trying to dig themselves out of a very deep hole. I hope they’ve got some very large shovels.


My abiding memory is of how these hybrid engines have ruined F1 beyond belief.

In fact, there is no longer such a thing as F1; it's now F2. Even Alonso says so.


The McLaren-Honda partnership turned out to be a major letdown. The disappointment matches the expectations.


Abiding memory? "GP2 Engine, GP2 Engine!" from Alonso as he crawled towards turn one at Suzuka, while rivals whizzed past on both sides.


Leaving any manufacturer, let alone HONDA, to be the third string team with Renault (1. RB - best chassis for over 7 seasons, 2. Renault - the factory team and first preference for PUs. 3. McLaren!) is a myopic decision of a 'challenged' directorship.
Obsessed with jumping at the whip of the biggest complainer in F1, who has a uniformly atrocious record in developing cars.
I'm expecting TR - Honda to win 4th place in championship 2018, and then bought by Honda.
McLaren will be in the weeds again, likely behind Renault factory team, somewhere in 6th or 7th.
You cannot have a driver 'managing' a team's strategy/direction!

McLaren, greatest weakness, strategic direction.


I wonder if Alonso gets to keep his salary level for 2018?

Honda wasted some 120M of excessive driver salary on him last 3 years. Should have got someone else and pushed that Alonso money into engines.

The whole thing was like a wife who was trying her best for the family, cooking a home made meal every day which didn't turn out so well because that's not her native cuisine, and the abusive husband yelled at her each day about how bad her cooking was.


Well it wasn't just Alonso this year.


There is a nominal team principal at Mclaren, but he is utterly inadequate for the job; thus, Alonso's influence was too much.
But the history of Alonso in F1 is clear, regardless of all the 'static' media support:
1. his victories in 2005 and 2006 included having what was later deemed 'an illegal moveable aerodynamic device' (I don;t necessarily agree with that ruling, but it is what it is), for half the season of 2005 and half the season of 2006.
2. The maniacal destructiveness at McLaren because he couldn't stand having a rookie actually race him (let alone beat him), i.e. Lewis Hamilton; so he squealed. and thus severely damaged McLaren; I believe that they are in their current 'dumpster' partly because of the damage accrued at that time.
3. then 'Crashgate'; who believes that Alonso didn't know?!? (if you do, I have some bridges for sale, it doesn't matter if you have a need for one or not)

These are verifiable outcomes.

Now at Honda: regardless of the PU performance, the public complaining and tantrums and what not is exceedingly unprofessional for someone getting that kind of compensation, even for an elite F1 driver, it's not bad!!!
Totally unacceptable.
So, precipitation to the 'decision' to leave what is effectively a works engine supply to a third string Renault customer.

It is not defensible!

Honda will redouble their efforts, they simply must show some successes during this foray into F1!
I expect TR to be a Honda Asset by the end of 2018, after achieving 4th or higher in the constructors championship.

(you can measure that!)


1. I'm glad you don't agree with the 2005 and 2006 rubbish - because it is just that.

2. Of course McLaren has no responsibility for the damage they incurred due to their cheating. If only Alonso wouldn't have "squealed", McLaren would have have gotten away scott free and wouldn't be in the dumpster and that's fine with you? Interesting.

3. Remember Liegate - Hamilton knew and lied until he got caught. He isn't faultless either.

Alonso's complaining due to Honda's continuous failures at providing anything close to a competitive engine not to mention countless failures over a period of 3 years is inexcusable?

You would rather have a former champion be perfectly content to tool around with the backmarkers, collect his 40 million and not complain? Would Hamilton, Vettel and Versteppen be more or as patient? They wouldn't have been as patient.

Honda can redouble all they want - they are going nowhere in the near future. With only one team willing to take a chance they will get less data. And they won't have Alonso to keep them from looking as bad as they are.

Sticking with Honda after 3 years of dealing with grossly under powered/performing (and countless) broken engines over Renault, a manufacturer that has won 6 of the last 13 championships would be beyond foolish.

Finally, Renault is furnishing McLaren with the same engine as they and Red Bull run - they are not third stringers and will be competitive next year.


3. then 'Crashgate'; who believes that Alonso didn't know?!? (if you do, I have some bridges for sale, it doesn't matter if you have a need for one or not)
Alonso said he didn't know. And he's been backed up by Max Mosely and his team of former law enforcement investigators. All the beliefs and conjectures from people like you doesn't amount to a hill of beans.


Alonso seated in that real deckchair, the painted deckchair in front of a podium this year, and...



It is hard to know where to start. I guess at the beginning would be as good as any. What i would like to know is what was Honda's plan, based on it's entry in partnership with McLaren? Here is a major global enterprise with access to incredible facilities and a massive bank of finance. The sheer size of the commitment was supposed to be a harbinger of future success. Where did it all go so very wrong? No one has given any detail of the technical breakdown and what it was that they, Honda, couldn't manage. McLaren would've fed them the structural design elements for Honda to match or vice versa, whatever. The fact is that the engine was a complete dud. Why did that happen? Nothing makes sense, despite the East versus the West philosophy. We are told nothing apart from a few generalisations and speculative hoo har from people who have absolutely no idea. It has been rumored for some time that the Honda investment has exceeded $600 million and as high as $1 billion!!! by some. Let's face it, that's massive in anyones language. Why and where has that humungous load of greenbacks gone? What we have witnessed and will continue to do so is that only two manufacturers got it right with only the second one coming to realisation after 3/4 years!!! Something is wrong. I have always supported the participation of independent engine builders as that gives teams choice and minimises the manipulation of results by factory teams who exercise undue influence on the future of racing in this category.

My favorite Alonsoism is 'F2 F2' and even that was being generous considering the failure rate.


...apart from the whole "power unit" concept under the current rules being totally wrong from the outset?

Unfortunate circumstances can sometimes make absolutely the right decision look idiotic. (ie McLaren and Honda getting together)


My abiding memory of the Honda farce, is one of anger. How could they waste so much time, money, and talent at McLaren for so long, and with so little to show for it. The cultural arrogance of Honda is unfortunately all too typical of Japanese companies. I struggle with the same liabilities of that arrogance with my own involvement with Japanese technology, close but never a cigar.


Anyone know the odds of Hartly being WDC next year?


500/1, and you can probably get him better than that.


Abiding memories.....
The demise of Ron Dennis...
Honda Head of Engine development getting the sack.
New Honda Head of Engine development starting where the previous left off.
Just a cacophony of disasters and a comedy of errors. HONDA where Dreams go splat like a custard pie in the face of Mclaren.
Now the comedy show moves onto Toro Rosso. Franz Tost take it away 🎹🎵🎶🙈🙉🙊


I like that last of the last. No more NBC in F1. ESPN should be much better. NBC has been just about as unreliable as Honda this year.

Honda really started at year one this year. The turbo and MGU-H was crammed into too small of a space the previous years. This year they probably had the speed of a 2014 engine but tried a little to hard I think.


Total disbelief that Honda, the largest manufacturer of motors in the world, could fail so miserably again and again - especially taking into account they had 3 years to get it right.
The amount of engine failures is unimaginable - surely the worst engine reliability over a 3 year period in F1 history.
As an Alonso fan, the grief they have put me through is immeasurable to the point I all but quit watching races.
No excuses either - they knew what they were getting into, refused help from McLaren, and appointed recent graduates to head the development program.
I thank the F1 gods Renault will furnish them with a competitive engine when Ferrari and Merc wanted to see McLaren remain in obscurity. May it come back to haunt them.
I don’t expect Alonso can win a WDC, but all hell will break loose if he is within a few tenths of the leaders. He will have an impact on who is or isn’t the next WDC.
He is as hungry as ever and more skilled than ever - I will be counting down the days for Australia.


I guess it shows that racing engineering is an art. Like Toyota in their F1 days, Honda had the resources but lacked the genius.


Mercedes started development work on their F1 hybrid engine in 2010 when they acquired the stake in Brawn. Then lobbied to get the engine formula to their liking, what they were working on. Even with that advantage it took them 5 years being 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 to win their first Championship (in this era). Honda is now in year 3 of their hybrid engine , so they have 2 more years to even match where Mercedes were in 2014.

As a comparison Ferrari and Renault started their respective hybrid engine development in 2013, both of their 5th years are then this year. Are they where Mercedes were at in 2014? Ferrari I say definitely, arguably much better than that. Renault not quite so much, I believe they underestimated the task as hand, ddin't provide the resources required early enough due a belief that their vast F1 experience would have them back in front much sooner.

With the above in mind, I believe picking on Honda is rather unfair, they started at least 4 years behind Mercedes and 2 years behind Renault and Ferrari. Sure they have made some mistakes but that's what happens when you are trying to make up for lost years and, at the same time, catch a train that is moving forward with development.


totally agree.
They were/are so far ahead.

it could be that Merc's advantage will not be overhaulable in the current formula, ever!

They will pull out as a works team at the conclusion of 2018; they won;t be able to maintain enough of an illusion of competition in F1 to stop the bleeding of disenfranchised fans from following the sport, thus their return on investment (ROI) will not advise continued participation.
They will switch to FE, where they are probably trying to replicate the same HUGE advantage over the competition, and take it over in a few years.


@ Gary...interesting post. What i want to know is just what was it that Honda couldn't do? I find it hard to believe that in the closed loop of F1 engineering there wasn't some data that would give Honda the leads that they needed. I mean, this is Honda, not some two bit greasy backyard builders. What was the engineering downfall that they couldn;t master?


Your stars????


@ James K...thanks for the heads up. You know what...I didn't notice until you posted. must be getting old hahaha




It's if you misspell your email address James.


@ NickH
Ok, thanks nick👍
But if you misspell your email, would you receive replies to that particular post?.... I’m not very IT competent I’m afraid😱😄


Ayrton Senna.


1st memory : Fernando's weird "full bearded look" and awkward photo op with ron dennis

-the Wind gust incident: also as mentioned by another poster, I wish for the "true story" someday

-GP2 engine

-crash in Melbourne

-Button "I will pee in your seat"

-general uninterrupted Stream of desapointment , one DNF after another, grid penalties in the hundreds


I'll remember best long and sad Japanese faces of Hasegawa and the guy whom he replaced and whose name I don't recall.

I guess they might eventually make a proper F1 engine but I don't get why they announced they would be in top 3 with Toro Rosso in 2018. Why are they doing this to themselves? They're mad.


It was an ambitious project, had it come together then McLaren and Honda may have had another golden period. But Honda could never really bring up their end of the bargain and it has been a lesson of abject humiliation. McLaren couldn't really make any other decision but to drop Honda I feel. Honda are still 3 or 4 seasons away from being a genuine threat, by then McLaren would be 6 years without a competitive package which is unthinkable.

Mclaren should use this chance with Renault to either cement strong ties with them for when they inevitably pull the plug again on their own team, or use the lack of engine related drama to work on a longer solution. A lack of a home power unit has been a massive problem for McLaren since the split with Mercedes and they need a long term solution in place.

As for Honda, this should be seen as a good move. They can spend some time with Torro Rosso where they will be less visibly embarrassed. Once they get to grips with the engine, they can perhaps get a Williams or Red Bull deal.

A deal with Williams could be beneficial for both as they have a similar history with them as they do with McLaren, and Williams could really do with the partnership if they ever want to come back to the front of the field.


This moment where we all were laughing out loud as it was obviously due to a faulty timing system! ...and then it wasn't. =8-!


I don't think McLaren will do much better with the Renault engine, There really are only 3 teams and we know who they are. Renault's own team are way behind Red Bull, it's not all about the engine. The Honda engine is showing signs of improvement, it is Alonso's influence that has outed Honda, a great driver but Alonso has not always made the right moves in his career, sadly for him, who really should be where Hamilton is now.


Abiding memories:

1) Honda's excuses over the year with no progress then relief as they pretend it's all reset and they'd be better next year, then repeat...

2) About 18mph down on speed through the traps, enough that a Honda at full speed could be hit by a full speed proper F1 car and cause a right mess 😉

3) Grid penalties : 305 place drops in 2015, 140 places in 2016, well over 100 in 2017 including a classic 75 place drops at one GP in Azerbaijan.

4) DNS four times and Not able to Qually 5 times

5) Classic deck chair to FA, JB SV raidio snippets, more than equalised by great drives, even recently like maintaining DRS on Massa to hang on to points etc.

6) Pushing the broken car uphill back to the Hungary pit lane, reminding me of Prost pushing his Renault over the line.

7) Alonso's out lap at Silverstone on damp track slicks to just make the flag then nail the next lap.

8) The monster Oz flip crash right past the camera position.

9) Honda failing to deploy as their algorithm got 'confused' as to where Alonso was on the track at Spa because Alonso took Pouhon flat out resulting in a loss of 150bhp or whatever on the straight with Hasegy saying "Honda would likely need to change its procedures to ensure there is no repeat"!
Basically being too fast for the car!

10) The impending destruction of the Torro Rosso Honda team...


It would be just Alonso’s luck if Honda come good next season and McLaren are fighting with Toro Rosso for points!


Even Alonso is that unlucky!!


Honda just coming good now - and will do better than Renault reliability wise next year.


I find it very odd that Honda could not get on top of things. You can argue that these engines are complex, but Honda are one of the largest engine builders in the world.

The failure, I think, is a combination of

- entering F1 a year too early
- changing the concept for 2017, starting almost from zero again
- Honda's unwillingness to bring in external consultants earlier

Of course, all this is based on what is written in articles.

The weirdest part of the story for me is the fact that Honda keep struggling. They're 3 years into it now and they're still not on top of it.


My 'abiding memories' just confirms how bad these Hybrid PU's have been for sad... a giant like Honda couldn't be competitive despite getting outside help from world-class engine experts such Ilmor Engineering.


Has the Amazon behind the scenes documentary on McLaren carried on through this year? That has the potential to have recorded some excruciating moments during the season and could be a remarkable story .


Alas, my abiding memory from this fiasco is "Fernando. My lawn mower is faster than you."


Alonso wasn't able to battle Massa all race in Brazil. He happily sat on the back and used the DRS and draft to get a boost down the straights to increase hs overall laptime which would have been hideous had he not done so. The McLaren chassis is undoubtedley good as Alonso was easily to stay with Massa through the twisty bits, but he never really challenged him for position as just didn't have the power on the fast bits.


Can I have another bite at the cherry?

The grud-awful temerity of Honda to announce, within a third disastrous season, that 2017 is "Year One".

I love Japan, but that is utter bull [mod]!

Whoever thought that was a good thing to say, should be fired, and then their CV back-checked to see if they conned their way into a responsible position.

What [mod]ding nonsense.


For me the saddest thing about the alliance was the dismal end it brought to Jenson Buttons career. Even his swansong at Monaco this year where he could have obtained good points was ruined by the grid penalty.


GP2, GP2, alonso had so great races but it boils down to GP2 GP2 engine comments thoughout the year just a shame for both sides


"I just got passed by a Manor!"


@ Bob W...yes,another great one from the master.


Honda failed because they didn't hire any non Japanese engineers, so had nobody with any knowledge or experience of a working unit.

McLaren failed by hiring the delusional narcissist alonso, a little man with an absurdly big ego. Has anybody ever, outside of the boxig world, come across somebody so shamlessly and falsely convinced of their own genius?

Alonso can whine all he wants about Hondas failings, but yet again he highlighted his own unemployability. His treatment of Honda was disgusting in the extreme. He deserves the ignominy of obscurity in the non points scoring positions absolutely, he got beaten by a Rookie 10 years ago and he has never got over it, profesionally or mentally.


Wow. There some Alonsofobia there.


Conversely i think Honda's treatment of Alonso/McLaren was disgusting in the extreme primarily for selling something that they could not produce and when they did produce it was a complete dud.


Whereas you have moved on 😉

You need to watch Disneys Frozen mi'laddo and sing along with Elsa.


No more Honda product ever.


My abiding memories? Pain.


I can't help thinking they've thrown the baby out with the bath water.
Yes the Honda experience was misery; the ignoble and torrid struggle was painful to witness. Yet; that suffering will bring rewards for TR next year who will probably reap the rewards of Maccas struggle. Time will tell but can they really keep on getting it so wrong?
I doubt it and others will benefit from Mclaren's struggles.


Yes they can. Because Mercs, Ferrari, & Renault are not standing still are they. Your confidence in Honda is admirable, but have they demonstrated they can deliver? Whatever Renault deliver next year will be better for Mclaren. They just need a breather, and go racing for the 1st time in 3 long, painful years. If torro rosso reap the benefits, good luck to them and red bull, but I doubt it.


From the top down all the way down, the McLaren Honda V6 hybrid project was the very definition of hubris. It doesn't matter how trophy laden your history is; badly run teams who make poor decisions deserve to do badly. My memories will mostly be of the early days of the project with Ron's boastful rants about "complete domination" before the Honda engine had even raced a competitive lap in anger. The uncompromising single-mindedness which defined his success in previous years became his downfall.


Was Ron Dennis totally oversold on a product by a team of whiz bang Honda salesmen who actually had no idea at all ?. Honda must have done a great job insofar as i don't believe that Ron Dennis is a fool and easily led.


Does it really matter? There were plenty of others who took a far more dispassionate assessment of Honda's potential and were proven right. Ron built his house when he insisted that you needed to be a manufacturer to win, so he talked himself into it, and as a team leader it was his job to assess whether his engine supplier was indeed up to snuff. McLaren-Honda's spectacular failing has probably been responsible for selling more Mercedes-Benz road cars than their marketing could ever have dreamt.


Fernandos engine imploding on his first lap out of the pits for practice at the Spanish GP and leaking all its fluids onto the track! If the relationship had any chance of surviving it ended at that moment!


James, thanks for reminding the Q1 lap from Silverstone. It was indeed one of the most exciting moments this year. I'm afraid without that it would really be only negative memories.


I think Button's performance in Austria in 2016 was the top highlight for McHonda in the past three seasons. His brilliant qualifying could be attributed to his mastery of changeable conditions, but finishing 6th in the race in a McHonda one of the most prominent power tracks was a fantastic achievement.


Fernando (was it in Montréal?):
“GP2 engine, GP2 engine!”


"On the positive side, Alonso was the only non Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari driver to top the time sheets in an F1 session this season, setting the fastest time in Q1 at Silverstone."

What a horrifically depressing statistic, which just illustrates that it is the regulations which are a complete mess not just Honda (and to a slightly lesser degree Renault).

It was clear from the first couple of races of 2014 that this era was going to be painful, but nothing has been done from the regulations side to help the situation (if anything constant tightening of engine usage rules is doing the opposite)...

Funny that, innovations like flexible bodywork, mass dampers, blown diffusers, double diffusers, X-wings, active suspension, traction control etc. etc. etc. have all been outlawed when it has become apparent that it is detrimental to the racing.

It's quite clear that too much power lies in too few hands that now the opposite situation exists when there is clearly a 'locked-in' advantage for a small number of outfits and regulation changes only go to exacerbate the situation.


My overwhelming memory will be the complaining and moaning from a supposedly top racing driver. He has done nothing but blamed Honda all season.
This is after he waited and waited for the Honda dealbto be in place before he signed the contract.
This guy is pathetic. He screwed Renault over the last time he drove for them.
God help him if he doesn’t get podiums at least 4 times.
I used to think he was a great driver, I didn’t ”like” him as I like some other drivers but this guy is far too mercenary. He is horrible, shows zero loyalty.
I hope Toro Rosso get a few podiums next year with Honda power!

Top Tags
SEARCH Innovation
JA ON F1 In association with...
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer

Sign up to receive the latest F1 News & Updates direct to your inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!