Jun 08

McLaren has ‘serious concerns’ over ‘lost’ Honda

“Honda’s working very hard but they seem a bit lost” – Brown

McLaren has ‘serious concerns’ over ‘lost’ HondaMcLaren chief Zak Brown says Honda’s decision not to introduce an engine upgrade for this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix came as a late surprise which could lead to its partnership deteriorating even further.

The McLaren executive director has underlined the Woking-based team’s preference in continuing and ultimately winning with Honda but has conceded worries are growing for 2018 if there isn’t a turnaround in fortunes.

McLaren re-joined forces with Honda in 2015 as power unit supplier in a move heralded as a return to the team’s glory days during its era of supreme domination with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost during the 1980s and 1990s.

However, McLaren-Honda is enduring its worst F1 season in its history having failed to score a single point in 2017 and with a series of grid penalties caused by using extra engine parts, the outlook for the rest of the campaign looks grim.

Speaking to Reuters, Brown has revealed splitting away from Honda is a genuine option for the management board and despite wanting to win with Honda it is losing faith in its capabilities.

“Honda’s working very hard but they seem a bit lost,” Brown told Reuters. “We were only told recently that we wouldn’t have the upgrade coming [for Canada] 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 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.

“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.”

Earlier this season, rumours began appearing that McLaren had sounded out a potential return to Mercedes as its power unit supplier. The speculation went cold but could be seen as the team’s only realistic option away from Honda for 2018.

Honda currently contributes an estimated $100 million to McLaren’s budget, while supplying the engines without cost, which could be a stumbling block on an engine supplier change, but Brown has hinted at other options to fill that potential financial hole.

“When you actually look at the impact of loss of FOM (Formula One payments) money and loss of sponsorship, it starts to diminish the commercial benefits of what Honda brings to the table,” he said. “And when you start to net it out, it doesn’t have quite the commercial benefit it might appear from the outside.”

source: crash.net