September deadline for McLaren?


While earlier reports suggested that McLaren would be in a position to announce its engine plans for 2018 by October, it now appears the deadline has moved forward to September.

After three difficult years with Honda that have come nowhere near the glory days of their previous partnership, the Woking team has made no secret of its disappointment and frustration.

However, turned down by (former partner) Mercedes and Ferrari, other than sticking with Honda, the only alternative would appear to be Renault.

Speaking in Hungary at the weekend, team boss Eric Boullier admitted that in order to hit the track in time for the first pre-season test - scheduled for February 26 - the team would need a minimum of twelve weeks in which to make the necessary changes were a new engine to be accommodated, meaning a deadline of just after the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

However, in an ideal world the team wants to know its plans as early as possible, thus it is hoped to make the decision by September.

Indeed, Honda has set a similar deadline, claiming that if performance and reliability targets have not been reached by September/October, it will walk away from the sport.

Ideally, Honda wants to continue with McLaren, Yusuke Hasegawa confirming as much at the weekend, but at a time the legendary Woking team is celebrating its first double points finish of the season, thereby allowing it to leapfrog Sauber for ninth in the standings, there are serious fears as to how the lack of results is damaging a team already struggling to find sponsors, a situation not helped by the fact that it might also lose its main asset, Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard having set his own deadline in terms of his future plans.

Speaking to Reuters in Hungary, chief operating officer Jonathan Neale admitted that time is of the essence.

"We’ve got to land those decisions in the next four or five weeks," he said, "I think there is a solution out there for everybody and I hope it’s one that will be able to retain Fernando in this team.

"I’m hoping that by the time we get through September, we’ll be able to come out and say something more publicly," he admitted.

To further complicate the situation, its intended partnership with Sauber now cancelled, Honda has been linked with a partnership with Toro Rosso, a move which if nothing else would free up the French manufacturer in terms of aiding McLaren.

Quite why Toro Rosso would want to drop Renault in favour of Honda is unclear, but there is a growing feeling that the Japanese manufacturer will eventually come good, a situation that would surely interest Red Bull.

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Published: 31/07/2017
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