McLaren's F1 Team Allegedly Wants Honda Out and Mercedes Back In
It looks like McLaren may be going back to their ex after all.
Tensions at McLaren-Honda are at an all time high. Honda's repeated 2017 engine failures have wounded McLaren, delegating them to dead last in this year's World Constructors' Championship—with said wounds being salted by the grid penalties the team will receive as punishment for exceeding the four allotted engines for the season. As if that wasn't enough, the team's number one driver, Fernando Alonso, has issued what has been worded as an ultimatum but effectively is a letter of resignation: If McLaren-Honda aren't capable of winning races by September, Alonso's leaving. McLaren, in spite of all their optimism and covering for Honda since 2015, sounds as if they are through with their worsening situation and looking for an out.
Auto Motor und Sport reports that for the first time, McLaren's management is now being publicly critical of Honda's failures, and that they want Honda to be the first to blink. McLaren is partially dependent on Honda's provision of free engines and sponsorship money, but the losses they are incurring from the motors' lack of performance is close to outweighing the benefits offered by Honda...never mind the damage dealt to the McLaren brand.
Italian Formula 1 site F1 Analisi Tecnica reports that McLaren hopes to switch back to Mercedes engines in 2018. Some of the groundwork was reportedly laid in April, when Honda turned down an offer from Mercedes for help in geting their engine up to snuff. Honda are now working with multiple outside groups to improve their engine, such as former Renault engine designer Marco Illien and Ricardo.
Reportedly, McLaren and Mercedes signed a provisional contract in Barcelona regarding the team's engine supply for 2018 and beyond—but it only comes into play if McLaren can split from Honda. It's also reported that the team's 2018 car—presumably named the MCL33—is already under development, with fitment of the Mercedes engine in mind.
Who knows? Alonso may even stay aboard if the lads and lasses at Woking can jettison Honda and bring in Mercedes. It's all up to Honda to, if you'll pardon the French, shit or get off the pot.