Honda’s financial support to the team will not be the deciding factor while choosing Engine Supplier for the next year, McLaren has clarified.
Honda came back to Formula 1 in 2015 after signing a long-term deal with McLaren. The contract, along with engine supply also includes contributing a major part of McLaren’s budget. Some suggest that this financial obligation is the reason the team is unwilling to sever ties with Honda and get a different engine supplier.
Zak Brown, executive director of McLaren says that the decision to switch to Renault or stay with Honda for next year will completely depend on the ‘on-track competitiveness’ and nothing else. The decision is due in the next week or two, he added.
“This is the month we decide, and probably early this month is the time we’re going to take a decision on our direction for next year,” said Brown.
“It’s very complicated, so it’s a variety of pieces to the puzzle, some in our control, some not. The best thing for McLaren is to make the best sporting decision possible. The business will follow suit.
“We’re here to win, that’s what makes us successful, so we’re going to take a sporting decision. We can’t afford not to be on the podium – it’s a big decision that has lots of elements to it, and economics are one.
“Fortunately we have extremely committed shareholders that we can make a sporting decision and deal with the economics. We’re not financially challenged, so we can navigate any financial situation.
“We’re going to sit down next week with guys that are much smarter on power units than myself and take a view on what we see [Honda’s] plans are, what they have accomplished.
“Whatever we do is going to have an element of risk associated with it, but that’s Formula 1.
“Right now we’ve got pen to paper on our 2018 chassis, but you can only go so far without knowing what power unit you’ll have in the back of it.”
Will Alonso continue?
Talks between McLaren and Fernando Alonso are ongoing about the contract for the next season. Alonso has made it clear that he will continue only if he can get a competitive car.
Brown also said McLaren is planning for alternative drivers in case they cannot retain the two-time world champion.
“Fernando’s not given us any ultimatum, them or us, all he wants is a competitive car,” he said.
“I’ll be spending more time with him this weekend, and his decision is going to be based on whether he thinks we’re going to be competitive or not. He’s not been engine specific in his desires.
“He hasn’t signed with us yet, negotiations are ongoing, they are going very well, but you’ve got to have Plan B and C, in the event that you don’t reach an agreement, and we’ve got those plans.”
Alonso suffered his fifth DNF of the season at the Spa race. Although he has not made any direct demands of choosing between him and Honda, he has made it clear that he has options to switch to another team if he feels McLaren cannot supply a reliable machine.
Honda’s motorsport boss Masashi Yamamoto is arriving at Monza today to discuss the future of their tie up with McLaren. Prior to this, a key meeting held in Japan between McLaren representatives and Honda, but no decisions were taken.