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McLaren 90 days from decision on future with Honda

NEWS STORY
07/06/2017

It would appear that finally, much like British PM Theresa May said at the weekend, McLaren also feels that "enough is enough".

However, unlike the British PM who will face enormous pressure to carry out her promise - assuming she is (re-)elected - McLaren's only concern is who it would get to supply its engines should it opt to part company with its Japanese partner.

Despite giving Honda more than enough chances, it would appear that the Japanese manufacturer remains all at sea. Just two weeks after the smoke and mirrors Indy 500 excursion came to nought - courtesy of a Honda engine failure - McLaren has learned that the much anticipated performance update will not be ready this weekend. Indeed, according to team boss Zak Brown, Honda is unable to say when it will be ready.

As a result, the Woking team and its drivers, Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, face further penalties, retirements and heartache while the legendary team suffers further damage to its reputation and brand.

Speaking to Reuters however, Brown, admitting that enough is enough, reveals that top management at Woking is only ninety days from making a decision on the future of the partnership, now admitting that there is a fork in the road ahead.

"Honda’s working very hard but they seem a bit lost," he said. "We were only told recently that we wouldn’t have the upgrade coming and we don’t have a definitive timeline, which is concerning because the pain is great and we can’t sit around forever.

"We were eagerly awaiting this upgrade as were our drivers," he admits, "and it’s a big disappointment that it’s not coming. It’s not lack of effort, but they are struggling to get it to come together."

"The executive committee have now given us our marching orders," he reveals. "We’re not going to go into another year like this, in hope."

"I don’t want to get into what our options are. Our preference is to win the world championship with Honda. But at some point you need to make a decision as to whether that’s achievable. And we have serious concerns.

"Missing upgrades, and upgrades not delivering to the level we were told they were going to, you can only take that so long. And we’re near our limit."

Unwilling to reveal what the alternative is, though there have been claims of a return to a Mercedes supply, all Brown will say is that: "It will all come together.

"There’s lots of things that go into the decision and we’re entering that window now of 'which way do you go when you come to the fork in the road'."

Insisting that the original deal to partner with Honda was "100 percent right", he adds: "However, so far it hasn’t worked. A year in Formula One is an eternity. Three years is a decade. And you just can’t go on forever."

"Do I think you can win with a customer engine? I think you can," he insists, and at a time former Cosworth boss Mark Gallagher is suggesting that though Honda is pouring money into McLaren's coffers, the Woking outfit would be best served by biting the bullet and relying on prize money earned with a new partner, the American admits: "When you actually look at the impact of loss of FOM money and loss of sponsorship, it starts to diminish the commercial benefits of what Honda brings to the table. And when you start to net it out, it doesn’t have quite the commercial benefit it might appear from the outside."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Paul C, 09/06/2017 16:48

"Why doesn't Honda work with Cosworth to make their power unit competitive? Any firm that can turn a sad lump of an engine like the old Chevy Vega engine into a winner could turn around the awful Honda power unit. "

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2. Posted by Spindoctor, 09/06/2017 13:48

"@Chris Balfe
Aye, there's the rub...
But alternatively to quote Denis Healy "...when you’re in a hole, stop digging".

McLaren's part of the package is pretty good. With a decent PU I'm reasonably confident they'd be at least as good as RBR.
Despite a lack of power and non-existent reliability, Alonso has frequently managed to stay with some of the better teams near, sometimes in, the top 10 and the temptation to ditch Honda after 3 horrible years must be very strong.
"

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3. Posted by nonickname, 08/06/2017 16:46

"Love debates.. They will stay with Honda. Their ultimatum will not sit well with the Honda board and people will do the impossible for honors' sake.Remember that if you work for Honda it is a life agreement including your family. If you leave no one wants you as you are a failure,and in Japan failure at any level is not good.
Mclaren can't/won't get a motor in 90 days. They are starting to sound like Red Bull.

"

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4. Posted by Mad Matt, 08/06/2017 12:11

"That's always the risk isn't it? I remember a friend who told me he couldn't leave the Pools club at work. I asked if he'd received threats or something and he replied "No, it's just that I know the day I leave they'll win and I'll kick myself".

As for Therese May, I think it's more a case of "we must do something", "this is something, therefore we must do it'........."

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5. Posted by Editor, 08/06/2017 11:14

"Ah, but imagine the upset were Honda to finally come good."

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6. Posted by Hobgoblin, 08/06/2017 10:10

"Agree with edllorca - a Sauber-Honda would be suicide, or desperation. Give a struggling team a poor engine and they will disappear and be forgotten."

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7. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 08/06/2017 9:54

"If they do split from Honda, would they be better funding Cosworth to make them an engine?
With it extremely doubtful Mercedes or Ferrari would supply them, could they build there own engine?
You have to believe that another option is already sorted and waiting for the green light, the 90 day deadline must have meaning to it also, why 90 days? "

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8. Posted by edllorca, 08/06/2017 3:58

"ryanhellyer that is assuming they actually make the grid. between money problems and soon engine problems we may not see them race much..."

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9. Posted by ryanhellyer, 07/06/2017 22:51

"Looks like Sauber will be the only team on the grid with Honda power next season :/"

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10. Posted by Yeyox02, 07/06/2017 20:26

"Sayonara Honda."

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