Five F1 2017 Talking points: McLaren drops Honda, Toro Rosso steps in
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Dec 2017   |  10:11 am GMT  |  164 comments

Continuing our series looking back at the main talking points of 2017, after the renaissance of Ferrari and the thrills of the Perez vs Ocon duel we now turn our attention to McLaren and its divorce with Honda after three years of misery.

What do you do if you are in a relationship where things are not working, where promises have been made that were not kept and where you can’t see a successful way forward? In personal relationships that often leads to a divorce.

In most divorce cases there is a financial dynamic too; splitting up means making sure that both sides have adequate financial provisions. McLaren had to accept a big financial hit from exiting this marriage, luckily it has wealthy shareholders who could sanction it, which is why drastic action was taken and the divorce was confirmed in September in Singapore.

The end of the relationship between McLaren and Honda felt more like a personal breakdown than merely a corporate decision to cease collaboration, because of the shared history but also because of the very human nature of the failures which led to this sad outcome.

Senior managers at Honda underestimated the challenge of making a hybrid turbo F1 engine and in such a short time frame.

Ron Dennis

McLaren weren’t in great shape in May 2013 when it was announced that Honda would be coming back to partner with them in F1 for the 2015 season. They had approved the Brawn team being given a Mercedes engine at the 11th hour for 2009 (at the height of FOTA unity) and it turned out to be a massive own goal; as a consequence Mercedes used that as a platform to buy their own F1 team and to separate with McLaren, which became just a customer.

As a proud team they needed a works engine partner, more so as the financials weren’t looking too rosy either; the difference for McLaren between paying for Mercedes engines as a customer in 2014 and getting a works engine and team funding from Honda in 2015 was a net $100 million annually.

Looking back, Honda could have done with 2015 as another development year, learning from what was going on in F1, hiring some outside talent, doing its R&D work, which always involves a lot of failure, in private.

Instead they didn’t hire outsiders and did their development work in public, with Alonso calling it a ‘GP2 engine’, sitting in deck chairs and all the other unflattering gestures which made the Japanese circle the wagons and act defensively. Honda Arai

Human errors
The Honda senior management is responsible for some terrible mistakes, not reaching down into the organisation to understand where things were going wrong and to be open minded in how to fix them. That is especially true on the engine side because the lead times are so long, compared to an aerodynamic change, which can be made in weeks.

After a 2016 season in which things seemed to be improving they sanctioned a completely new philosophy of engine to shoot for the moon, but engineering doesn’t work like that and the 2017 engine couldn’t run on the track the way it ran on a drawing board -it was a step backwards in power and reliability.

The end of the affair was clear at that point, in winter testing in Barcelona when Alonso and the new management of McLaren realised that they had no hope of competing this year on the track or in the sponsorship market.

McLaren is not blameless in all this. They sat there at the launch in 2017 predicting a step up the grid from 2016 but how could the engineers responsible for the Honda relationship not know what the real numbers were and be so blind to the reality? It speaks of the age old problem of British F1 teams not communicating clearly with Japanese engineers, not overcoming the linguistic and cultural challenges of such a relationship.

Ron Dennis

And it highlighted an age old problem at McLaren of complacency; something Nigel Mansell identified in 1995 when things went wrong in his relationship with the team and which has run through the organisation at various times since, even when all the evidence points to the need to disrupt the organisation.

That is happening now and McLaren have given themselves a big challenge with Renault customer engines for 2018 onwards. For Renault that deal made sense because it watered down the intensity of its troubled relationship with Red Bull.

Red Bull as a company benefited, though, as it was able to take the free engines and the team subsidy and make Toro Rosso more sustainable, while at the same time keeping an eye on the Japanese to see whether they start to really get their act together. If that does happen there could be the option of switching across to the main team for 2020, for example.

It was an episode which didn’t reflect well on F1 and the sport’s powerbrokers had to work hard behind the scenes to keep Honda in F1 beyond the end of 2017.

That has been achieved and just like in a personal divorce, everyone can now ‘move on’.

What did you think of McLaren-Honda in 2017? Leave your comment in the section below

Featured Innovation
technical innovation from tata COMMUNICATIONS
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 that something went wrong, repeat again!
Tornillo Amarillo

However in September Honda Chief said, “For next year, our goal is to fight for the top three at the front of the grid.”

Does Honda seriously saying they will try to put Toro Rosso in 2018 ahead of Red Bull, Renault, McLaren and Force India?

Are they still sticking with non-sense targets as they were during this already dead-McLaren marriage? What is wrong there?

Even if they have change management and Hasegawa is not the leader anymore of the Honda F1 project, I’am worried of wich attitude they are taking with TR.


All water under the bridge for this McLaren fan. I hope to see a real battle between the Renault customer teams and the Mercs/Ferraris.


@ Laguna Seca…What i want to see is Mercedes being totally thumped! The chances of that happening are, as they say, none and Buckley’s! My greatest concern is that all teams are now forced to complete an entire season with just three engines? I mean, how are they going to do that? Mercedes could probably do it on one but Renault? I think it was Ricciardo who used nine units last year!!!! To go from 9 engines down to 3 seems an impossible task unless they reduce revs substantially and tippytoe through the Monza [ et al ] tulips….Even the mid field will be further subdued i think…


Here’s a review of 2017 PU Component Usage:

Looks like Ricciardo took a 7th & 8th MGU-H in Brazil.

If we had a Best X of Y Results system in place, drivers could take the grid penalty hit without it hampering them as badly.


@ KRB…Looking back over the season and the disastrous engine usages it is important when summarising to analyse the grid drops as they are a direct corollary of the engine penalties [in the main ] MacLaren/Honda were nothing short of pathetic. van Doorne took 218 places, Alonso took 160 and Ricciardo took 65. All Renault engined cars took 304 grid place drops. In my book those figures tell a story of mainstream failure on a massive scale and this is 4 years into the new engines!. All i can say is that the drivers most affected have had every right to complain and i am really surprised that it has been as temperate as it has been. This sad state of affairs just cannot be allowed to roll on unabated for another three years.


@ KRB….Yes, you’re quite right. I never liked that system though as it was discriminatory of drivers who consistently earned points in all races to reach their total yet someone who may have had a few higher places could discard their lowest and then come out on top. On a slightly different tack, i’d like to see points awarded right down to last as that would help determine the pecking order of all cars and drivers. Minor issue but i’d still like to see it.


Ron was no saint – nor was he honest but he managed McLaren with a proactive aggressive style.

His counterpart seems to favour reactionary American style mismanagement. Honda was as eager to leave this new McLaren as quickly as Zac was to shut the door behind them.

My feeling is 2018 will see McLaren Renault suffer further, while Honda improves with Toro Rosso – not sure about their driver line up – but the Red Bull junior team will be an improvement in reliability and performance.


Honda got very little back for all the work with McLaren. They seem to be going forward with Tori Roso


they sold a lot of cars from the publicity they enjoyed about their power unit.


from 2013, when mclaren announced their intention to use honda engines, i said they were doomed. i didn’t understand why they couldn’t see that. honda has never been successful in f1 without the variable valve timing advantage. when all engines had the same technology, they were nowhere. so it didn’t make sense to me why mclaren chose honda. they couldn’t have thought it through because honda supplied them with unsuccessful engines after the other teams used variable valve timing technology. they had first hand experience of how poor hands is without a secret advantage and yet opted for honda. ron dennis even saw honda’s return two unsuccessful teams. they were closely involved in supplying the brawn team with a mercedes engine to replace honda and still took the decision to partner with honda. numerous anti fans argued with me just because they are anti.
the poorest f1 decision i have ever witnessed.


We disagree with you … because we know better , we are not anti you.
BTW we got your idea about Honda the first time. No need to keep rambling on about it.


your only problem is when the most number of pole positions, the most number of race victories or the most number of championships won with different teams are being discussed, only one of the current drivers features.


You said before 2017 season started ‘Ferrari would have to watch out for McLaren’.


yes i know what i said and in what context i said it.


So not the oracle after all then. When someone makes so many predictions they begin to lose their value, take note.


Hi James – I have written about my experience of attending Silverstone this year (my first live GP after 30 years of watching) and would like to share what I have written with my fellow keyboard warriors. It’s quite a long piece, so I thought I’d best ask your permission before I posted it! Would it be OK to do so?


Would love to hear about it aezy_doc.


Interesting talking points 👌
Happy New Year to all


I am left wondering why McLaren doesn’t make its own F1 PU. The P1, for my money, is a must have in my dream garage. It too is a hybrid. They collaborated with Ricardo PLC on it. Why don’t they have the balls to do their own engine? I can understand standing behind your own brand has consequences if the product fails but a car manufacturer such as McLaren surely has more to lose from inactivity? The past three years really couldn’t have gone much worse for them. Along those lines, Spare a thought for Honda. Sochiro must be most perturbed for the way they boffed this up. His legacy and street cred is going down the tubes post haste. Kudos for Honda for sticking with the program. They must resurrect their brand. Do or die time.


I recall Button giving as much as Alonso over the radio about the lack of power, deployment running out, engine failures etc.

For the time it went on for and the amount of issues I’d say Button and Alonso were quite restrained in what was said. Something should be said to movivate Honda when they bring no useful upgrades and the average qualifying positions are 16th for Alonso and 17th for Button!

GP2 engine is fair play after getting mugged by Ericsson in a Sauber halfway down the Suzuka straight that late on in the season!

Imagine what Seb would’ve been like over the radio, a lot louder, a lot more frequent and a lot sooner than Jense or Fernando.


@ Clarkes… people tend to diss on Alonso for saying out loud what others would think and perhaps shy away from. I’m all for calling it like it is. Here was his career going down the toilet with these pathetic engines despite all the promises. If i had a brand new engine installed in my car and it only ran, sporadically, for ten minutes i’d lose my rag as well!!!! In fact i think what we heard was restrained from what he could’ve said. Go Fernando…


For me the mindblowing thing was Honda’s complete inability to improve with in season upgrades, despite the promises.

It started so so terribly. Shocking reliability, pathetic lack of power, running out of deployment etc that they should have been able to make dramatic leaps forward over the season. But…nothing.

Bottom line…these PUs are too complex for Honda to engineer.
Quick cut to the Azimo robot thing and a Power of Dreams tagline to distract.


I agree with Sebee and others on these PU poo poos in general. I dont find them amazing, as a fan i find them boring and stifiling the competition.
Regulators job is regulate technical rules. Manufacturers either decide to join or leave, i dont care what they do. If they leave someone fills thier place. Law of the jungle. Letting manufacturers dictate regs is outrageous. And the beginning of the end.

I didnt like every Moseley decision but at least he could be strong and make some! Todt is too weak.

Just watched some season reviews from late 80’s up to early 2000. Those years and cars make the hair stand up on the back of my neck.


only manufacturers who compete in f1 should be consulted during use negotiations and so far not all the manufacturers in f1 are capable of winning because they are not as well organised as those who win. blaming the rule formulation process is simply wrong because the regulations apply equally to them.


By ‘well organised’, you refer to mercedes? Whom had bench test units already up before the regs …..whom then pushed with thier influence for favourable rules? Hmmmmm still sounds like manufacturers getting the regs they want.

I seem to recall renault and merc threaten to quit if the v8 era wasnt changed to something that they wanted. Why should F1 do what renault and merc want? There are lots of other potential suppliers out there.

Surely the engine regs should take a broader view of the sport and its future?

These are bad engine regs because the Fia bowed to manufacturers.


I hope you don’t mind if I add just one more thing…


A big McLaren mistake was rehiring Alonso. Have to wonder if a young Michael Schumacher type could have helped in the development of the engine as well as chassis?


@ Gene Herbert…Why would you say that? Alonso is a very knowledgeable driver with excellent feed back abilities.


Using Schumacher as an example; he went to Ferrari at a low point in their racing history. It is said, he assembled a team he could be involved with, in terms of car performance. Was it just Ross Brawn? Was it Schumacher’s ability to communicate to engineers that helped development. It was probably the right combination of many things. Not all drivers are good test drivers. It is said, even the tires were designed to suit his driving style. Schumacher could get things out of a car others could not. He could drive around problems. Maybe that type of driver would have helped with development by encouraging a different type of design / engineering staff at Honda? I understand Lauda at Ferrari also interacted beneficially in development of the car. It didn’t seem Alonso had that rare type of collaboration.


Going off what Eddie Irvine said for what it’s worth the F310 and B was still a pig through the early period of the V10, but he stated Schumacher could drive through and compensate for a lot of it’s problems as you mention Gene.

Schumacher also said that he could have won the 95 title driving the 412 T2 V12 after giving it a shakedown when he first came to Ferrari, which in itself is a big call, and reliability might have been the only issue, but still I tend to believe him!


Just what help, exactly, do you expect *any* driver to be able to provide in relation to engine development..?!


Even if Honda manage to finally build a decent engine. Torro rosso have average drivers at best so we will not see the package anywhere near the front.


@ Mark…James Key is known to be able to build an excellent chassis/car and if, a very big IF, the engine is any good even a couple of ‘average’ drivers can make their mark and team look good. I would love to see Hartley do well. He’s a very experienced driver and you don’t win two LMP1 championships for Porsche by being a nobody. Yes, F1 is different but he’s adapted remarkably well.


The divorce was spectacular but the child custody moves were pretty confusing but in some cases, predictable. How Sainz ended up as part of the divorce is really strange.


Confusing yes, the main thing though is someone always takes Sainz out for ice cream and a ride in the park every second weekend!


The divorce was probably the the best thing at this stage as McLaren was losing all viability as a top team already 3 years in a row…a fourth probably would finish them. Granted…there is no guarantee that this will change under Renault for next year but the odds are in their favor since its the same engine that has won a few races this year under Red Bull. I do feel though that Honda might just come into their own for 2018 and this will no doubt shake the F1 tree in some interesting ways. There will be drivers scrambling to get a piece of that fruit. Right now I am cautiously optimistic for what’s to come. McLaren might regret it in the end.


Language and distance put them at a disadvantage. New young engineers every year doesnt help continuity.
For all the humourless devotion to duty the japanese have warm nostalgia for the past collaboration with Mclaren and the old boys in Honda seemed eager for another go.
They are much braver than all the others like bmw and ford that have run away from F1.
I dont think they have wasted any of the years back in F1 as a car manufacturer they have a vastly improved group of engineers and facilities to develop their next gen products.
Really the only thing here is Mclaren eager for a nice cash injection and the complacent thinking you highlighted James.


This has without doubt been the worst period in Mclaren history.
Terrible performance from Honda.
Ron Dennis ousted.
Alonso back.
Zack Brown constantly talking about breakfast.
The only good thing is the chassis.
Let’s hope that next season with a Renault PU Stoffel kicks Alonso in the bu tocks.


2007 alonso caused $100m damage to mclaren in a single season only to return to take the team right to the back of the grid…..with all their gigantic resources in tow.


Mclaren might want to improve on their pit stops, too.


I wouldn’t be too sure of the last point. That being said, their Chassis is up there, and could very well might pose a problem for RB in 2018, if not a win at Singapore/Hungary/Monaco.


mclaren enjoyed a mercedes engine in 2013.
those talking up the chassis only did so because it couldn’t be proven. i wonder what their excuses will look like in 2018. if mclaren really believed in the strength of their chassis, why are they making arrangements for alonso to take part in other racing series outside f1?
very few successful business turn their backs on the core business.


Strange hopes you got for next season. Anyway if stoffel bests Fernando lets hope that Fernando then gets second place in the championship !


Another interesting article to keep us all amused until we get down to racing next year. Thank you james. The question that keeps coming back to me is a simple one. How did Honda get it so wrong? What exactly was it that they couldn’t accomplish? For a global corporation [ 4th largest in the world ] the size of Honda it is vexing to say the very least. With a history of successful competition and the fact that they are currently building engines, albeit non hybrid, for other race series seems to me to be very strange. What was the core problem? They had ICE failures and many problems with the MGU-H as well as other issues. They have some of the best facilities ever and they have many skilled engineers yet their performance was abysmal. Communication is always difficult but it’s not as though these issues cannot be easily solved with skilled teams of East/West liasion personnel from both sides. So what exactly was it that caused the break down in relations? We know that promises were made and they were not fulfilled but why weren’t they fulfilled? One other point i’d like to make is this, in the article james suggests that Red Bull will be watching the developments like a squadron of malnourished hawks for the possibility of perhaps switching to Honda themselves in ’20…so what do Red Bull do for ’19 if Renault keep to their word and stop supplying Red Bull at the end of next season?


With 20 20 vision honda got it wrong by getting into bed with Ron Dennis. IF thay had done a quiet deal with Sauber( who at the time were extremely cash strapped) then a lot of the high profile noise would not have been there. They would not have been forced to enter a year early and they could have developed the reliability before the power. Plus they would not have had the expensive Alonso wage bill.
But let”s face it you do not enter F1 with the intention of being mediocre.


honda has never seen f1 success without variable valve timing advantage. they are just not as good at engine building as mercedes bmw or vw. mclaren chose the wrong partner in honda. they need harmon for any success.


I will bow to superior knowlege but I did not think Honda had vvt when it saw F1 success in Mexico 1965. ( pedantic and arcane example I know but sadly I could not resist)


Did they have variable valve timing back in 1965 at Mexico. I bow to your better knowlege of F1 history.


So they built an engine that passed homologation, demolished the field and made one of f1’s iconic partnerships, but somehow they are found undeserving by you. Okaaay


I think they mentioned a few times that when they tried the engine on the car in testing they saw very different dynamics compared to what they predicted or tried on the dyno. Seem to recall tyres setting up a weird resonance that lead to lots of failures(?).

At least apart from the conceptual follies, management issues, and perhaps, let’s say, over-advertising advances in performance, the simulation tools may not have provided an accurate representation of that performance. I guess the analogy that brings the point home is the struggle aerodynamicists sometimes face when they have wind tunnel correlation problems.


It was a matter of time, or lack there of. Even when they switched PU concepts for 2017, they didn’t have enough time. They crammed all the tech they wanted into the PU and then developed it in season.


they had all the time in the world to do it. they just took the wrong decisions. had they copied the mercedes concept from the beginning and improved on it over time, they wouldn’t have failed so drastically. instead, they had their own untested concept which they thought would outperform mercedes. changing their concept a year later, took them back 3 seasons and now they’re playing catch-up while others progress even further.


Honda has played catch up since they entered. Changing the design concept isn’t a simple layout change.


i don’t know what your point is. how else should they have done, catch back?


I think they got it wrong mainly because they really decided to use this as a training exercise for their engineers. They didn’t want outside help and they insisted on doing it themselves.

Of course F1 doesn’t award points for this, but you have to admit it is to be admired. I admire what they decided to take on. How is it a Honda engine if others did it? What’s the point of playing a game if you’re only going to get a cheat mode or have another player pass it for you? Honda played it honourably, fairly and took their lumps for it. But I don’t hold it against them to be honest. Honda products are still great, and make a lot more meaningful difference to the world with small displacement efficient engines they sell in huge volume than all the V8s that Mercedes is selling in F1 with this PU.

Then you have to face the reality of how ahead of the game Mercedes were with their planning for this PU era. Lauda confirmed that strategy and drafts started 7 years before the 2014 rules came in. Think about that. Mercedes played everyone on this one and there is just no way to overcome what they have done with this PU. I think many here misunderstand my admiration of their engineering achievement on this. I recognize their achievement fully and completely. Simply it is pointless as far as road relevance goes and not beneficial to F1 really, clearly as this era of domination demonstrates. However, considering Mercedes have been working on this technology for over a decade, the lack of application of it in practical product shows the specialization and irrelevance. I’m insulted by the branding as well; Mercedes AMG has no hybrid to offer, and this new EQ Power as I’ve pointed out repeatedly is a 100% electric car brand that’s coming with a 100% electric SUV as first model in 2019. So, Bravo Mercedes for your success in the F1 engine formula you invented, no doubt. But BOOO for your insistence that it has anything to do with actual product or corporate intentions, or that it makes sense on the roads. Nice try with the Project One, but I’m betting the 25 year old McLaren F1 holds up very nicely against it in a race and the new Tesla Roadster made the Project One look…well, weak. And at 10% of the Project One cost.

Finally, there is a limit to what a PU can achieve. A point where no more gains can be made. When such point is reached, you can’t surpass those who have already arrived at the destination. The fact that we’re burning oil has be believing that we’re at that point already this past season, if not last. THAT is the reason why Mercedes cannot be unseated as kings of this formula. At best there could be challengers, but they will always be behind in refinements and understanding of this dreaded PU we’re stuck with.

I think Mercedes is a clear deterrent to any other manufacturer entering F1 right now. It will be a futile effort with very limited rewards. Honda’s story is certainly one of not delivering from within, but it is also a story that shows how little ROI is here to be had in Formula 1 with a PU effort. Then there is the whole thing of Honda breaking sales record after sales record last 3 years. So how important is Formula 1 to sales success anyway, vs. good product that connects to people? You think Mercedes would be hitting unit sales records based on their F1 success if not for all the low cost models they’ve been introducing last 5 years as they push the brand toward lower price entry points?

Tornillo Amarillo

Hasegawa also talked more about Honda sourcing help from outside to benefit their F1 project.

“We started many collaborations with other partners, the identity of which we don’t normally disclose, We can see results from that project.

“We will continue those collaborations – there’s no reason to stop – we even have to enhance the collaboration more.

“I understand most people think Honda has tried to do it by themselves. But it’s not right. We’re happy to invite outside resource, and we do.” 31-12-2017


Thanks for that Tornillo.

It’s rather non-specific. Could be…what’s his name…that dude Red Bull hired to help their engine when they rebranded it TAG.

Could be the new Honda engineers they brought in from outside the F1 unit.

Or it could very well be Mercedes or another maker.

It is sufficiently non specific that assumptions can be all over the place. It does make me wonder who specifically he is taking about.


Mario Illien! It came back to me a day late.

Tornillo Amarillo

Although Honda has not made dramatic gains with its engine so far this season, behind the scenes there has been a lot of change. It parted with ex-Ferrari man Gilles Simon on the eve of the season, and subsequently enlisted a wide range of input from outside parties – including Ilmor and Mercedes…

Engine guru Mario Illien has a successful past in grand prix racing, most notably with Mercedes and McLaren in the mid-1990s – scoring back-to-back world titles with Mika Hakkinen in 1998-99. Ilmor engines have 44 F1 wins and 43 pole positions to their name.

Autosport – August 23rd 2017


I swear Mario name came back to me before I read this. You knew exactly who I meant! 🙂

It would make sense that he would be a consultant of some sort, and you’d figure he would be quietly “auditing” in the very least or potentially steering input on design. Still wonder how much stock Honda would put in allowing him to drive the project – it is essentially the power he would need to be effective, right?

My other issue with Illien being a big difference maker here is the incredible reliance on software with these PUs, and I’m not sure how much Illien can offer, considering he’s not been involved in this era of high software reliance PUs.


@ Sebee…your last paragraph? are you really being serious or just having a giggle?


Mario Illien of Ilmor fame?


I’m ashamed that I didn’t remember this on the first go.


come seb prius was on all the world’s road long before hybridation arrived in f1 and mercedes didn’t have a longer time to build and develop theirs. they formula was agreed by all the manufacturers and each had the same length of time to build and develop. mercedes just does it better with the help of the best of them all. mercedes did offer hybrid cars long before pus were introduced in f1.

mclaren f1 doesn’t come close to project one. all the latest mclaren supercars are better to drive than the mclaren f1. as for tesla, they’re a joke running at a lost just to keep cars on the road. they don’t understand that car manufacturers make the profits from selling vans and budget cars rather than supercars. they’ve gone about it thevwtong way and will soon pull the plug after running out of pride. they seem to have a lot of money to waste though. they’ve even got a space project..aiming to get into space tourism.
so long as hamilton is at mercedes, no engine manufacturers will beat them.
honda enjoyed the publicity they got from f1. they were talked about more often than mercedes renault and ferrari so it’s not surprising that their sales teams enjoyed so much success. they may not enjoy as much exposure with rosso as they did with mclaren and alonso but they surely understand the role f1 plays in their brand.


‘all the latest mclaren supercars are better to drive than the mclaren f1’

I’m sure you have driven all of them.


mercedes did it and no one calls their engine a cheat engine..


You are good Sebee, I like your passion for it.
I admit that diagonally reading, I go for James and you first.
Yes, Honda is a great manufacturer, and it is amazing and admirable their dedication and the pain all together. Three years of hell.
From all the cars I have driven a V6 Accord 250HP was one of favourites, an engine that reached more than 400K still running like new. These guys know how to build a car, so definitely I have a soft spot for Honda team.
Hope they will fix their issues with TR. It was not about Honda capability I think.. The PU was too complex and their time for development was too short in comparison with others, hence the results. Not to mention the continuous pressure and humiliation they endured, all not very helpful in development race. They will sort out their issues to close the gap, that’s for sure.
A TR passing by Alonso will be the supreme reward for the team.


Road and Track declared the V6 Accord the last American Muscle Car.

After reading the piece, it was hard to disagree with the logic.

Let’s be honest, in the US, you cannot make a mistake with the American Accord. Even the new one that no longer has V6 as option is simply a beauty of a car and value. Try to get that much car in such quality and reliability in any other brand – good luck!

The contradiction between Honda in the real world and Honda in F1 is really Yin and Yang.


he complained so much about kvyat that it cost him his career and yet torpedoed into so many other cars himself.


Well said Sebee


Thanks Random…and Lincon – who was first!


They didn’t want outside help and they insisted on doing it themselves

I think that’s it in a nutshell Sebee. The Japanese people as a whole are a very proud and seeking or asking for outside assistance goes against their very DNA for its seen as an admittance of failure. In saying that they are also very determined and I do believe they will come to grips with these current engines and be successful… some stage…..hopefully.


You know what….I don’t understand how the rest of the world actually thinks that what Honda is doing is wrong or bad…somehow. They are actually 100% in the right with their action, their behaviour, their way. It is all the critics who are in the wrong.

You get a killer video game like Mario Odyssey and instead of playing and discovering it yourself to challenge yourself, you watch others play it on YouTube and you just imitate them? Or you pay for a DLC to pass it easier? How is that good?

I am 100% on board with the fact that Honda didn’t want help and didn’t want to copy the Mercedes engine when they could have easily looked at it and copied the heck out of the layout and other obvious things. Seriously, how much reward can they claim and pride can they enjoy from something copied or from some guy they paid a pile of cash to leave Mercedes told Honda to do? Zero.


@ Sebee…you don’t by chance have any shares in Honda or actually drive one do you?


I own no interest in Honda.

My first car was an Acura. Loved it. I have not owned a Honda car since, and have seen some hideousness from them, like the Crosstour. I don’t like the new Civic design personally because it reminds me so much of the ugly Crosstour. However, there is little doubt that the company knows their segment well, delivers product the segment respects and responds to. And most importantly, Honda is not in F1 with the PUs while having no hybrid cars available for sale, and while pushing and selling V8 and V12 engines to the market. Yes, I’m looking at you Mercedes AMG.

But I do have one disclosure about Mercedes. I got a nice Hugo Boss black leather jacket from Santa. It’s lamb leather. Sharp. Gets complements every time I wore it. But…it’s a Mercedes AMG Petronas leather jacket! I’ve been branded against my will! Thankfully the F1 team reference is only on the inside of the jacket….but the small Mercedes logo on the back of my neck is really annoying. Can’t remove it, it will leave a hole in the leather. A great looking jacket with a brand of car I swore off due to this PU fiasco insistence and rule push that has done so much harm to the F1 show.


You could stick a VW logo on top of the three pointed star!!


Good point. When you think about it, isn’t that part of what Ferrari is saying about the proposed new regs, that things are moving too close to a spec engine?

Really, F1 overcooked it with these hybrids. You can promote efficiency with much simpler regs. The old Group C sports car regs left the choice and design of engine up to the teams, subject to maximum fuel load and maximum number of pitstops.

Simplify. Stop the over specification nonsense on fuel flow rate and take a page
from Group C: Set a maximum permissible fuel load (say 10 gallons); set a minimum weight; set safety regs. Cover the race distance without refueling.

Group C gave us a spectacular variety of cars, icons like the 956 and the XJR 9. F1 could learn from that simplicity. It might attract the additional manufacturers it craves.


That’s a big plus the fact that they appear determined or willing to persevere despite some pretty ordinary results and major setbacks.

I can’t imagine anyone would want to see an engine manufacturer pull out of F1?

Also they will be out of the McLaren spotlight so that you would expect that their immediate demand for success at TR is not as intense.


@ Sebee…That was quite a response but hardly what i was hoping for, that someone could shine some light on the Honda catastrophe. This thread is about the Honda shortcomings, or so i thought. I find it most difficult to accept that Honda, in your words, used their entry as an F1 engine builder, ‘as mainly a training exercise for their engineers’. That doesn’t make any sense. Yes ,they apparently rotate their engineers but that is nothing new. What i was looking for was some comment that shone a light on what the specific weaknesses were. For example it wasn’t technical expertise as they have some of the best facilities in the world. Their design facilities are also world class…so what was it that they didn’t know? Was it hybrid integration and the complex software needed to make it run? Honda didn’t just pull this out of thin air…they must have known what was required as the size of the investment would have been a driving force in order to make any feasability exercise workable and acceptable to the Honda board. There is a lot we don’t know and apparently everyone is guessing…..I simply cannot accept the theories that have been put forward. Something does not add up.


Well Honda wasted a couple of years on that size zero crap. Mercedes had a huge head start. So did everyone compared to Honda. Running only one car limits data collection.

Just this year they redesigned their engine more in line with the rest. Even before Mercedes had an advantage with their V8 until parity was reached.

I don’t think Honda is even close yet and probably can’t be but Ferrari and Renault could be by 2020.


I think it’s as simple as this kenneth: This tech is not as easy as it looks, even for a company like Honda who as you rightly say should have had able to a handle on it by now.

The other thing is the communication between McLaren, Honda, and Honda’s engineers – Not the lack of it, but what it was comprised of. As you said we’re all just guessing a bit, but I have the distinct impression it was something along the lines of:

McLaren->Honda: How’s the engine going?
Honda->Honda Engineers: How’s the engine progressing?
Honda Engineers->Honda: It’s looking good, we’re making good progress 🙂
Honda->McLaren: It’s looking good, everything’s fine, nothing to worry about 🙂

Personally I think it’s that more than anything that made the situation untenable for McLaren.


@ Random….I simply don’t buy the communication angle. Major japanese corporations operate’ uber’ successfully on a global scale with Western entities. I have first hand experience of business dealings with large Japanese corporations and every deal was subject to total scrutiny in order to negate mis constructions of what was required for successful dealings. MacLaren are used to dealing with foreign partners and i doubt whether the communications were the root of the problem. Ron Dennis would not have inked the deal if he was in any way expecting the farce that ensued. Someone sold someone a healthy dose of snake oil…..


How about this?

In F1 you need to twist and bend. Burn oil. Maybe other shady things. And they simply aren’t willing to do that due to values. It was really same when they owned the team.

It’s interesting that they are now in bed with Red Bull because they can twist and bend and they know how to. So how will that work out?


@ Sebee…pure speculation and without any evidence should be consigned to the round file!


All fair to say kenneth, but as for that last sentence the question is who?


@ Random….I have no idea who it was as i was speaking figuratively but nevertheless MacLaren was sold a crock and what we see is the sad aftermath.


That’s okay kenneth as I was asking rhetorically 😉

Absolutely agreed though that McLaren was sold a crock, but I think the saddest thing of all is that we won’t get to say McHonda anymore 😐


@ random…Toro Rosso Honda..what a mouthful. TRH…TossaHonda…Tronda anything goes i guess. Wonder what tthe Sky team will come up with?


TossaHonda – Not bad kenneth 🙂


Just spot on.


It will be a brave engine supplier that steps into the ring post 2020


James, could you remind me if Honda made any sort of long term commitment to F1 like Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull…you know, till 2020. I think Renault committed till 2025, right?

Just wondering, because of that “everyone can move on” comment. Just wondering how much moving on Honda can do. And if they work out things quietly over 2018 with STR and those 2 1st year drivers, wouldn’t RBR take the Honda PU for 2019?


from the beating honda took over the past 3 seasons, it is safe to say that honda intends to stay in f1 for a long hall. i wouldn’t be surprised if they bought out a team soon. buying a team would save them a lot of political stress.


Agreed. I keep thinking that STR will ultimately be bought out by Honda.


I bet you Honda doesn’t go into team ownership unless budget cap is secured 100%, and team payouts are sorted.

Honda has team ownership experience, and after what has become of their old team, I hardly see them wanting to buy a team based in Italy to try to take on the F1 world. No way.


I think there would be something in the fine print of the contract to ensure that was the case.
Imagine if Honda find the missing link this season with Torro Rosso and the engine powers them to regularly finish ahead of the senior team. No way do RB not have the option to take on those engines for 2019.


@ Sars…and the likelihood of that? Call Ripley…. I read yesterday that Honda are keeping their old ’17 engine hot for use if their ’18 model isn’t up to snuff. Now that statement heartily endorses the confidence and belief that Honda have…in abundance. Hahaha They, like all the others, only have three engines for the entire year before penalties kick in! I think that there was one race last rear when they would’ve used their annual allocation in one week end. Based on what Honda have done, one year of development and three years of competition i am totally sceptical of anything that they say. I also think that Renault and Honda are fortunate that F1 engine suppliers aren’t governed by ‘lemon laws’.


With two first year drivers at STR, the pressure is completely off and there is not going to be any Honda miracles that make up for that lack of driver experience.


Honda isn’t a teamso doesn’t need to make a commitment in the same way as those manilufacturer teams did with bilateral agreements with F1


So the bilateral agreement is different to the sporting regs that limit supply of any car manufacturer ( not f1 manufacturer ) to just three teams. Where can we see the bilateral agreement as I think it is at the heart of a lot of the false info being posted as FIA regs.


Likewise. I was not aware of any bi lateral agreement which excludes Honda from complying with Sporting regs?


Bit confused here. The article states that Red Bull could move to the Honda engine in 2020 but I thought Renault was leaving at the end of 2018.


That’s not confirmed

It went very quiet as RB argued that legally Renault may have to supply them


What is the actual commitment from the manufacturers over engine supply? I have seen various comments such as “ must supply up to three teams” , “ can only supply a maximum of three teams” and “ actually have no obligation” I think this confusion is fairly wide spread when I read some of the comments on where RBR will have to go for engines.


for your information honda only won championships when they had the variable valve technological advantage. they never won championships 1965.
keep dreaming cos it’s good to dream big!


That’s an interesting facet of the Renault/Red Bull divorce that I hadn’t heard before, I wonder how it could work in reality? Renault being forced to supply against their will? Sounds a bit awks…..


That could backfire on Red Bull rather horrendously, if Renault were forced to supply them, I could see Renault supplying them with second or third rate engines to really stick the knife in, particularly if the Renault and Mclaren teams do well.


That’s supposed to be against the rules too.


The rules say all teams get the same specification of engines and that customer teams get engine upgrades ‘as soon as possible,’ it would not be outside the rules for Renault to state that Mclaren gets first pick after the factory team, then Red Bull gets the upgrades only once Renault and Mclaren have been supplied.
It’s would also be perfectly within the rules for Renault to pick and choose who gets which power unit. If they have four ‘identical’ units but find units A and C run slightly better than B and D, no one can stop them giving A and C to Mclaren and always giving Red Bull the ‘worst’ of the available power units.


JNH. Can you point me to the rules on engine supply. If it is as you say ( And I do not doubt you ) then obviously teams can just ignore them as in Ferrari supplying year old engines and TR being given second hand parts by Renault.

111 Formula 1 Sporting Regulations 2018 21/09/2017 revision, Appendix 9, Pages 63-70.
The Sauber supply last year was approved by the FIA on cost and availability grounds, Sauber left it very late to renew their supply with Ferrari for 2017 and couldn’t afford the full price. They will be running 2018 spec engines this year.
The Renault issue was to do with manufacturing capacity. All the teams had asked Renault for more power, so Renault gave them engines with 2018 development parts fitted. This gave the power increase (and two wins for Red Bull) but also an increase in failures. Renault lacked the ability to make the 2018 engines and replace the 2017 engines at the same time, so refurbished engines were used. Toro Rosso got them first because STR were at the bottom of the ladder as it were.


Jnh i have been through the regs a few times before and can not find the point you quote which is why I asked for more info.

8.3 gives a max or three teams supplied including Honda even though they are not an f1 manufacturer. Even James Allen talks about the difference between a supplier and a manufacturer but I can not find it in the regs. I can only find. …..

A major car manufacturer may not directly or indirectly supply engines for more than three teams of two cars each without the consent of the FIA. For the purposes of this Article 8.3, a major car manufacturer is a company whose shares are quoted on a recognised stock exchange or the subsidiary of such a company

Please point me to the exact reg that people are referring to



Wouldn’t it be funny if the reverse was true i.e. Honda produce a stonking engine in 2018, and then Renault hold Red Bull to the contract for 2019 and deny them the best engine.

Highly unlikely considering Honda’s recent efforts I admit.


and past efforts..


If the engine supply agreement runs out after this season, and then they can’t sign another, then it should go to the engine manufacturer with the least customers, which would be Honda. Is that not right?


It is my understanding that Honda are not tied to the same agreement that the manufacturer teams are, in that they have a choice, rather than a contractual obligation to supply.


Thats my understanding also. The big winners of that would be RedBull if of course Honda can get their act together.
If Renault op out could we see Honda buy them out and thus relegate RB to being a customer team, if that is at all feasible or likely?


Is that true?

Can’t imagine they would be obligated to supply A team that just hammers them in public.

The reason renault is in F1 is for brand recognition. RB just seems to kill all that


if renault took their money in a contract arrangement, then they could be forced to honour the contract or return the money…


Uhh, so what happens to the Renault team?!?!


Isn’t that like keeping your mistress and your wife while you wait to see which relationship is more advantageous?


Well, it’s more like trying out your rival’s ex-mistress even though everyone says she’s going to leave you unsatisfied, meanwhile complaining about your wife who is planning to leave you anyway.

What could possibly go wrong? 🙂


The obvious:

Both stink, and Merc wins the beauty contest


“Five F1 2017 Talking Points”

Isn’t this a 6th piece in the series? That’s what happens when you try to limit the fuel flow.

If someone were to predict in 2012 that this is what would happen to McLaren in the next 5 years, you would say they are crazy and perhaps very very high. Right down to what went down with Ron Dennis.

McLaren have gone from royalty of F1 to…well, let us not throw insults around.


i think honda saved mclaren from embarasment. imagin what their excuse would’ve been had it not for honda being their engine supplier. how did they perform in 2013, with that mercedes engine? did williams finish ahead of them?


I am well aware that Mc’laren was ahead of it. However I also know that time that engine was the only one who snatched Pole from Mercedes. I do not want to debate on it about customer engines however we know this hybrid era it happens. No surprise they have gone for Renault rather Mercedes.


you seem to know a lot about mclaren and mercedes…..lot more than the results show actually.
i know that you will telling it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere, come march.


One is geared towards F1 Tech, and another highlights F1 general stories.


Maybe you’re right about McLaren, but what does the same say about Honda?


No there are two strands

Five F1 taking points 2017 (general news topics)
Five F1 technical talking points (clue in title)


Well…five rulers on the knuckles for me for overlooking that one.

Lucky for me I’m so liked around here no one wants to line up to issue the punishment.


has that got anything to do with odour?


Tickets to administer the punishment will sell out faster than Silverstone grandstand seats 🙊


Alonso’s behaviour was ridiculous and childish.
It clearly didn’t help and showed he is not a team-player.


@ OIM….what a silly statement. He has been stoic in my eyes. He has put up with rubbish engines for three years/ 36months of embarrassment and frustration where he was promised one thing and given a dud instead. How you can possibly find fault is just too silly for words.


Can’t agree on this one. I have long been a fan, but even allowing for the lack of performance and the frustration it can produce, his attitude has disappointed me at times these past few years.


Wait and see how “childish” it gets when the Renault power plant fails to deliver and they roll backwards.


Alonso is a fiercely proud champion and acted no differently than Schuey, Senna, Hamilton or any other driver that has an ounce of competitive spirit in his bones.

The “not team-player” award goes to Honda for it’s flat out refusal of McLaren’s help/expertise offered to them at the onset which would have made all the difference.

In the end, Honda’s selfish pride bit them square in the ass. Too bad McLaren was also a victim.


I am no fan of Alonso, I still have to feel for him. He is certainly one of the best driver in the grid and the machine letting him down. He is not at all ridiculous and childish however running out of his prime with a machine where he can not do anything and the greatest problem is Honda in that machine.


it was alonso’s choice to join mclaren honda wasn’t it?
some say he made his own bed..


Yes, it was his choice he didn’t complain first year. But 3 year’s in a raw look at Renault even they have imprpved……….. And to be honest, i do not like alonso as a person he complain too much but as a driver respect him a lot.


I believe the “GP2 engine! GP2! Argghhh!” outburst was at the 2015 Japanese GP, so he was complaining from the start. He was right about the engine, but probably should not have been airing it out in public.


Add to that it was a Honda engine which let go on him at Indy too!


A Honda powered car eventually won the Indy 500.


Sato which was a special moment too….before Alonso’s retirement I actually thought he was a strong chance of winning, he was staying with the front runners and looked to have a nice rhythm which was building nicely.

I am not bagging Honda here and have tried to remain optimistic about their approach all the way through. As an F1 fan I am extremely disappointed that the McLaren/Honda package failed, we were robbed of some potentially fantastic battles, all the ingredients were there it just didn’t come out of the oven right!

Nothing would excite me more now than to see a Honda/Red Bull bullet in 2019!


Do you think Honda wanted to see that has been drink Milk with Zac?


Hi Toe Clipper,

I remember reading this article not long after the Indy 500. Have a read it’s quite interesting…seems like the old adage of motor racing more power over reliability.


He might be one of the better drivers which is hard to say given his advanced age but he is hardly on Hamiltons level. Hamilton is the best then comes Senna and Tiger.


Tiger drives cars?!

I’m clearly out of my debt in this forum


where the Hamilton comes from??? 😀


Some interesting points JA. I’m not sure how much RB is going to benefit from Honda engine supply wise. Yes maybe they will benefit financially. Honda’s history over the past 15 years tells me F1 isn’t the category they can be successful at as a team or an engine supplier. I have read a report recently suggesting Honda’s vision and facility played a key role for Max Verstappen to stay with the team until 2020. That just reminded of what Alonso said when he left Ferrari. Well, I hope I’m wrong about Honda. It will be nice to see any competitive engine from any brand.

Isn’t Aston Martin is also a potential engine supplier for RB from 2021 onwards? Any other potential engine supplier on the horizon JA?


Even after reading James’s analysis with its informed historical perspective, I’m still unclear as to how this happened, not once but twice since this is the story of two attempts to build an F1 engine.


This is like a blockbuster 3-way trade in MLB or the NHL. As the link below says, all three have rolled the dice somewhat, all believe they’ve made the best play for themselves. They’re all hoping they made the right call, for when we all look back at this deal in 5 years time.


Krb, will be fascinating to see how it pans out, what if both McLaren and Red Bull out pace Renault? What if it’s close, and Sainz delivers the performance that puts Renault ahead of Red Bull in the WCC? What if Renault go backwards with the engine, and Honda ace it?!


The missing link in this story is the Mclaren choice for a Zero concept, resulting in a small and from a enginering pov very difficult engine. The second attempt resulted in a new engine with lots of unknowns and no historical data to fall back on.

Richard Mortimer

Very interesting Eric. I think Jame’s analysis is very balanced, pointing the blame at Honda and McLaren. In addition: I think the rules did not help. F1 has tried a ‘frozen’ engine formula and the ‘token’ system. Both failed as neither helped struggling manufacturers catch up. Honda started way behind. A proper ‘frozen’ formula (where the leading engine is frozen) with apportioned tokens (Honda would get more as they are behind) would have solved some of the difference at least!


Are you sure the size zero concept was McLaren’s?
I’ve heard it was Honda’s idea several times but not sure if it is true.


Completely agree. It was Honda’s idea from the beginning…


@case @baron
Maybe you need to hear from someone more believable like James, but if we indeed McLaren who strongly demanded size zero


I’m interested to understand how you are so sure of this (that “size zero” was all McLaren’s idea)? Perhaps you could share a document or news item, bearing in mind, the Mercedes PU they used for one season was clearly the leader of the pack even back then. Why throw that experience out of the window and insist on a form factor that was completely unknown & revolutionary? Especially if you are not an engine builder yourself and thus likely to be unaware of the consequences of this form factor. It makes (size) ZERO sense. No, in my view this smacks completely of Honda “re-inventing” the wheel and trying to outsmart the competition and they sold the proposal to McLaren. It’s little wonder Ron Dennis practically salivated over the idea and perhaps he should have inserted a note of caution at this point. Naturally, if someone presents some empirical evidence to the contrary, then that is completey acceptable but bonkers at the same time.


I never said it was McLaren’s idea. I said McLaren strongly demanded it.

I’m not saying that it was McLaren alone who came up with the layout of the concept. It was a collaborative work between the 2 manufacturers. How else does a works partnership work, without input, feedback and integration of their products?
I’m not saying Honda was not out of their depth in what they believed was achievable, performance and reliability wise. Plenty of naivety, inexperience and optimism led them down a rabbit hole, promising what they can’t deliver, which ultimately, as results prove, didn’t pay off. I’m not denying any of Honda’s failures. But.. It’s high time McLaren owned up to their mess too. It takes 2 to tango.
So, you can’t obviously think a works team collaboration goes something like “hey, party next week. I’ll bring food. You bring the drinks” do you? Of course not.
Yes, Honda’s failures and shortcomings are all well documented, in excess, IMHO.
What ticks me off are the words of those who are either very gullible and /or lovingly protective of McLaren, accepting what they say blindly without looking at the other side of the coin.
I’ve read a few articles related to this. Not one respectable F1 journalist has ever portrayed a scenario through their reporting where Honda insisted on a design concept that McLaren wasn’t sure of, or keen about, and reluctantly accepted it.
(The last I read was by Nick Richards (autosport) on 30 th Dec. He’s under the belief that it was at McLaren’s wish and approval).

Performance and reliability aside (enough talked about there), let’s talk about some other things which English biased media rarely pick up on, and how McLaren hasn’t really helped themselves in this fiasco. Or Honda for that matter.
Back in 2013 when Ron and Honda struck the deal, the financial support Honda were to give was only under the agreement as temporary until McLaren found the promised title sponsor. Ron, in his brilliant madness rejected 2 possibilities to take over from vodaphone due to what one can only call snobbery. Sure, the high and almighty McLaren name can’t afford to be soiled by unworthy names..
The money Honda needlessly continued to subsidise… Imagine if that was spent on engine development!
Coming back to the zero concept.. While McLaren were boasting the class leading chassis (yes it was good), question still remains how much of that was partly thanks to Honda’s lowest centre of gravity and small engine package? Thanks to that freedom in design McLaren were afforded at the back of the bodywork, I would have expected nothing less than what they delivered.
Yes, Honda engine was very under powered. So why amongst all the teams, were they running the most visibly biggest rear wings at places like monza, or all places? Very disingenuous to proclaim the best chassis at the expense of straight line speed.. Take the credit for parts of virtue Honda was contributing to, then ignore their part, and furthermore air dirty laundries in the public by saying “look at how low the top speed is!” No sh!t Sherlock, of course GPS will show them to be the fastest around corners!
And thanks to lack of title sponsor which apparently McLaren don’t believe in anymore.. (I feel groundwork laid by Zack for excuses of non delivery in progress), they decided Alonso was to be paid by Honda too.
Ok, he’s good. But it was Honda paying his salary. McLaren couldn’t. Simple as that. Talk about biting the hand that feeds. Yes you too, McLaren. Without the reported 80 mill and paid for driver, how on earth would you have supported things?
Coming back to Zack Brown.. Hiding guiltlessly under Honda’s F’ ups… Mr “King of F1 sponsorship” has yet to deliver anything, despite all the huge hopes he fed to shareholders in just as large doses as his breakfasts.. It’s a matter of time before the cheque payers start saying “hold on.. The reasons we were promised for ousting Ron and giving it to you isn’t being delivered?”
Eric isn’t even worth mentioning. He hasn’t achieved or delivered anything.. from his resume in the past or his time at McLaren.
Enough said. It pains me to slag off my favourite team, whose headquarters is only 15 minutes away from my home…


Good point about rear wing.


I too think that McLaren have been their own worst enemy throughout these few years and none more so than this last one. I was very disappointed just how much Fernando slated his financier and that the team leaders not only condoned it, but were participants.

Top Tags
SEARCH Innovation