“Whatever happens, we are partners”
McLaren Formula 1 racing director Eric Boullier is open to engine partner Honda supplying a second team in the future, but says there would be a “price to pay” despite the benefits of additional data.
Honda returned to F1 as an engine supplier in 2015, rekindling its famed partnership with McLaren from the late 1980s and early ’90s, but has failed to enjoy anything like the kind of form that Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost did in that period.
A string of problems with the power unit design and reliability has left McLaren marooned in F1’s midfield, with its last podium finish coming at the start of 2014. The team currently sits last in the constructors’ championship.
Honda was previously prevented from supplying a second team by McLaren, but the British marque is now open to the idea, with the major benefit being that the amount of data on offer would be doubled.
However, Boullier remains unsure about the idea, and would want to fully evaluate how Honda supplying a second team would impact McLaren.
“More teams is better, more teams running is better definitely, [but] there’s always a price to pay for that which is obviously deviating our resources to maybe build more engines,” Boullier said.
“Whatever happens, we are partners, so at some stage there will be a second team, and I think we will have to support this.
“But we have to make sure it’s not detrimental to our partnership with Honda.”
When asked if Honda supplying a second team before 2017 would have harmed McLaren, Boullier said: “Yes. I still believe it’s easier today to be honest.
“I think review all the scenarios, say we are open all the offices, we need to hold the files. Today I think we have a more or less clear path where to go and how in terms of faster and – let’s say not guaranteed because we can’t guarantee anything – but I think a recovery plan, I think we have something falling into place.
“Then we can let’s say focus or be distracted with another team and support us. We need first to have this recovery plan. Three years in a row being where we are, it’s not possible now, so we have to break through and step up.”
Honda is rumoured to be in talks with Sauber over a possible engine supply for 2018, with the Swiss backmarkers currently using year-old Ferrari power units.