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McLaren eyeing Mercedes reconciliation?

NEWS STORY
16/03/2017

In the wake of what can only be described as a disastrous pre-season test programme which saw the Woking team complete just 1,229 miles over the course of the eight days - compared to Mercedes (3,170), Ferrari (2,765) and Williams (2,314) - the eight times constructors' champions head to Melbourne and beyond in worrying shape.

Three years into the new partnership with Honda, with which it enjoyed iconic success in the late 80s and early 90s, things appear no better than they did at the start. While Honda appeared to take a step forward in 2016, following the nightmare that was 2015, the recent tests suggest the Japanese manufacturer has fallen behind yet again.

Although tied into a long-term deal it is understood that on the back of the Barcelona tests McLaren is considering all its options including splitting with Honda and reuniting with Mercedes.

Such a move would be fraught with complications, that's even if Honda agreed to a 'divorce', but with McLaren targeting a title sponsor for 2018 continuing 'as is' is only further damaging a brand already in trouble after four seasons without a single win.

Asked about the speculation, a McLaren spokesman would only say: "Winter testing was challenging and disappointing. We are working with Honda to address shortcomings and deficiencies.

"Together with Honda we are considering options, but we will not comment on media speculation," they added.

Having teased fans with talk of a retro look to its new livery - itself something of a disappointment - a series of failures on the opening day of the test - a portent of what was to follow - caused further frustration.

While the initial issue was put down to the fact that the oil tank was too small, a problem that should have shown up on the test bed, subsequent electrical issues were said to be down to vibrations causing connection problems.

Without doubt, the decline of the multi-time world champions is one of the biggest shocks in the sport of recent times, and the sad fact is that unless something drastic happen soon the decline will continue.

In many ways, McLaren's previous partnership with Mercedes, which began in 1995, two years after Honda withdrew from F1, was arguably as successful as the relationship with the Japanese manufacturer, and while there was only one constructors' crown, McLaren-Mercedes drivers won four titles.

Even when the relationship soured, leaving Mercedes to form its own team, McLaren continued using Mercedes engines until re-partnering with Honda in 2015, a year into the hybrid formula.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Superbird70, 19/03/2017 15:47

"They should have bought Manor. At least they would have Mercedes engines in their 'B' team."

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2. Posted by mickl, 18/03/2017 1:23

"I feel most sorry for Stoffel Vandoorne in this scenario as he has probably turned down offers to drive for one of the midfield teams this season but stuck it out with Mclaren hoping that Honda would have come good this season."

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3. Posted by mickl, 18/03/2017 1:21

"@Trixi because they would need to spend months if not the whole season to re-design the whole rear end of the car to be able to fit a Mercedes engine into it and to be reliable before they can consider it to be competitive. If they want to change engines they will have to grin and bear it for at least 1 season.

Without a title sponsor, Honda probably chucks quite a bit into the pot to make up the annual budget. So until Zack Brown pulls his finger out and signs a big sponsor they probably can't afford to flip off Honda and their lawnmower engines. Rock and a hard place comes to mind."

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4. Posted by Trixi, 17/03/2017 16:06

"Why are they taking so long? Open your eyes; instead of 'eyeing.' Drop Honda and go after Mercedes. Why is this "sad?" Pulezzzz...it's about winning. "

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5. Posted by ryanhellyer, 17/03/2017 11:44

"This is sad, but also easy to believe. There is no point in continuing if Honda are this far behind."

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6. Posted by hussainahm, 16/03/2017 18:18

"It's likely that Honda would pull out of F1 because if McLaren decide to end their partnership at the end of this year, Honda won't have anyone to supply even if they gave their power units away for free."

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7. Posted by Spindoctor, 16/03/2017 16:13

"Surely impossible for this season?"

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8. Posted by McMacca, 16/03/2017 14:34

"I'm sorry to say but i saw this coming, shame as i too believe it will be near impossible to beat a works merc team, but being near the front is better than at the back.......

I wonder if Manors engines are lying in a box somewhere?"

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9. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 16/03/2017 14:21

"I wonder if the Mclaren spokesperson comment "Together with Honda we are considering options".can you can read into that, it may be Honda who are thinking of terminating the contract? with such a long contract in place, surely ending it would have to come from Hondas side, unless there is one of those much vaunted performance clauses in there."

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