I know McLaren aren’t happy with the way they’ve been performing over the last couple of years and I also know that losing their Mercedes engine supply was a big impact—so much so that former CEO Ron Dennis immediately brokered a deal with Honda which, on paper, seemed like the right thing to do.

Having no choice for an engine is not a new thing in the era of the hybrid power unit. Last year fans and folks in the paddock were telling Red Bull to Take their temper tantrum home and many comments I saw were along the lines of, “don’t let the door hit you in the *** on your way out”. I argued back then that Red Bull was hugely important to F1 and being denied a competitive race engine supply was a bad move. The FIA agreed and wrote regulations to prevent that from happening again…except, it is happening again.

McLaren are trying to secure a Renault engine supply deal and the manufacturer says they can’t add another team to their roster. This leaves McLaren trying to take Toro Rosso’s supply contract leaving the junior team with a Honda deal. F1 owners, Liberty Media, say they are trying everything they can, along with the FIA’s Jean Todt, to keep Honda in F1.

The difference in McLaren’s approach to their engine displeasure and Red Bull’s last year is that they haven’t threatened to leave the sport should they not get a competitive engine. I still say that Red Bull are hugely important to F1 due to the amount of resources they invest in the series—including bankrolling the Austrian Grand Prix—and McLaren are equally important from a historic and resource perspective.

The problem is that these engines are so complex that only car manufacturers have the resources to create them or at least the will to invest in creating them. Of those manufacturers, only two have gotten it right with one, Mercedes, having the upper hand and that advantage—I argued back in 2014—would be baked in until the engine regulations change in 2020. While many disagreed with me, last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix should go a long way to suggesting I was correct in my concern.

Now McLaren are desperately trying to secure a Renault contract but I’ll offer this thought to ponder—why are they so eager to jettison Honda and get a Renault?

The fact is, I am curious as to the prime mover in McLaren at this point. Reading many news articles would suggest they are trying everything they can, including torching their Honda relationship, to keep Fernando Alonso. I understand why, he’s a singular talent for sure, but is that short-term thinking?

Honda isn’t performing the way they should be at this stage and if McLaren feel that the Honda relationship will never produce fruit and a race-winning engine, then I understand but the engine regulations are set to change in two seasons and as Ron Dennis knew, having a bespoke and single supplier contract that you can control is a massive advantage. It’s a bit like having your own manufacturer.

I have all the respect in the world for Fernando Alonso but I’m not sure that torching your only engine supply deal in order to keep him happy is the best strategy. Honda is not competitive yet but if you’re building a long-term partnership and need a manufacturer relationship that you can steer, Honda seems like a good long-term strategy. Especially if you have a person at the table with Ross Brawn and the FIA and you have an inkling of what the new engine format could be.

Twelve months on and we now have another massive player in F1 desperate for a competitive engine. I’m not suggesting that Honda have no liability in this equation and they should have gotten on top of their performance deficit by now but regardless, F1 and the FIA know how important it is to have a manufacturer in the sport—because no one else can afford to build these hybrid engines—and if Honda leaves, the series is in trouble as it is anchored to an engine format that only three entities can make and only one of them have an engine that is top shelf. Of those three, two of them don’t want to supply Red Bull or McLaren for fear of instantly creating a competitive team that could outperform them due to their chassis design and resources.

McLaren need a long-term partner that can ultimately have the resources to invest in R&D and create an engine to compete with Ferrari and Mercedes. Since VW/Porsche/Audi seem to be focused on Formula E and no other manufacturer has raised an interest in entering F1, McLaren may lose Alonso but keeping Honda, renewing their joint effort and even bringing in engine specialists to help the team seems like a better long-term option.

Fernando Alonso and Michael Andretti watch the start of the final warmup for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama — Photo by: Joe Skibinski, INDYCAR

F1 and the FIA need to step in and help the situation to retain Honda’s involvement. They have limited options for other manufacturers like Toyota, Audi, Mazda etc and none of those companies would want to enter in F1 now because the engine regulations are relatively well matured at this point. Honda has to stay and F1 has to keep them even if they need to assist in development.

What would a Renault engine supply really give McLaren? An Alonso contract extension and more consistent Q3 and top 10 points finishes? Is that enough in the long term? Alonso is a singular talent and arguably the best driver on the grid but long term, Honda could be the best engine resource to get McLaren competitive again.

If the 2020 regulations change but are still anchored to this hybrid format with a V6, I believe Honda will eventually get on top of the situation. Sure, Alonso may leave but McLaren Honda won’t and the entire team need that long-term stability regardless if they aren’t winning races yet. Patience doesn’t come cheap in Formula 1 but prudence can win titles.

Christian Horner: “This engine has done nothing positive for Formula 1 since it was introduced.”

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Van Dieu

    Honda have been massively hamstrung be only having one team to work with. From their point of view it should be McLaren AND STR. Alonso is not in a position to be making any sort of demands! The guy is fast becoming mentally unhinged as his obsession with Palmer during the Italian GP betrays!

    • John Brink

      Maybe he is moaning about Palmer so that he can take his place at Renault

  • subcritical71

    This whole Alonso – Honda – Renault – Indy situation simply does not make any sense. I believe there is more going on behind the scenes than is being portrayed (or leaked). Moving to Renault PU’s to only appease Alonso would be a huge mistake. For sure Honda is making slow progress, but I don’t see Renault being that much better at this point, never mind next year. If we were talking a Ferrari or Mercedes PU then that would be a different story. If Alonso is really alienating Honda then how does that effect any Indy-Honda relationship(?) I know Alonso has the Renault connection, but still it doesn’t make any sense. Alonso has also not been as publicly vocal about the Honda issue as he was in past projects that started turning sour. It took him 2+ years to start openly talking about it. I don’t consider team radio as openly talking as this is heat of the moment stuff which is easily taken out of context. How many times have a cursed my car when it doesn’t start to only get back in it the following week with indifference. Its what he says during interviews that I consider relevant. After being restrained for so long there must be a reason he is talking the way he is today and I believe its because McLaren have asked him to.

    I believe McLaren are just as tired of the PU situation and are privy to the real progress of the Honda program and like any driver looking at a new team have done their due diligence and don’t like what they are seeing. Again, to change for a driver in his mid-30’s just wouldn’t make sense no matter what the name. The simple fact is he won’t be around much longer and comes with a very large compensation package. Grab up an up and coming Ocon / Stroll and spend the extra money are R&D.

    I’d like to see the real reasoning come out but I suspect those thoughts will remain in the domain of the many F1 secrets. Unfortunately I believe the only way Alonso wins is going to IndyCar with the full support of Honda.

    • Barry

      I hate to see F1 lose him though. I would like him in a truly competitive car. I don’t think Vettel and Hamilton would be seen then as they are now. Verstappen, however might be a different story if jointly blessed with both an engine and a car. The same goes for Ricciardo.

      • I agree with that as well as Subcritical’s comment. Hate to see him leave and that’s why I felt moving to Renault would make sense but I think he likes the McLaren vibe and ability to race for them in Indycar and WEC or other series. He’s frustrated but the team do give him a chance to race in other series and that’s worth a lot that no other F1 team gives him.

  • charlie white

    I don’t understand why STR would let Renault bolt to McLaren without a (public) fight. This exchange of Honda for Renault customer engines makes no sense. All right, STR becomes the de facto Honda works team but at what cost? Does such a deal make STR more attractive to potential buyers for the team? As for Alonso, just hang up the helmet and retire. I don’t see him going to Williams, the Renault team is a possibility and we’ll see Fred next May at Indy. Or make my dream come true and sign up with Force India.

    • myusername1234!

      My guess is STR will not have much say in things. Mateschitz / Marko will be thinking if they can get Honda on board and developing using STR then if or when the engine finally comes good they can slot it into the RBR main team.

      At the moment Red Bull is stuck with a Renault engine that is not going to allow them to beat Mercedes or Ferrari on a consistent basis… this could be their way out.

      • Marti J Powell BSc

        At the moment Red Bull is stuck with a Renault engine that is not going to allow them to beat Mercedes or Ferrari on a consistent basis

        This WOULD be true of Mclaren also !!

        • Yeah, at some level I am not sure if swapping Alonso’s engine so he can finish in top 10 instead of mid-field is going to make him happy. He wants to win and who can begrudge him of that? I think everyone wanted the Honda deal to work out and take the fight to Mercedes but are we being impatient here? Not sure. IT took RBR six years to take the old Jag team and make it a winner.

          • MIE

            The old Jag team was already a winner before Sir Jackie sold the team to Ford for the big corporate entity to undo all the hard work to get there.

            As for Honda, they have had four different attempts at F1. Only one of these has been successful, the rest have given very patchy results at best. History does not point to the company being a good fit for F1. The Senna/Peost era McLaren Honda’s were an exception to the company’s normal performance.

          • I understand that, for sure, but I’m not convinced that having a Renault lump is the solution. Short term? yes, long term and through 2020? I’m not so sure. I think McLaren has always wanted a bespoke partner and Ron tried to get this with Honda. Maybe it isn’t Honda in the long run but one has to think they at least have a handle on the silly hybrid regs at a point that another engine maker would have to work up to. Maybe I’m wrong on that.

          • Shane Dunn

            I think they should go the whole hog.
            Get rid of Alonso, save his wage… what’s that 20 Million (I’m guesing) and buy the technology off Honda employ some engineers (some Honda ones to who wknow the lump) to redesign it and rebadge it McLaren.

            This is a long term plan not short fix I know. That’s why the letting Alonso go part is an easy choice as he won’t want to stay because he’s to old to wait.

            But if it works 5 years down the line they have a good engine that they control…and is that time any longer that the Renault engined winning McLaren?????

        • myusername1234!

          Exactly, which is why it might be short sighted of McLaren to ditch Honda just to please Alonso (if that is indeed what is happening).

          For McLaren the big gamble is whether or not Honda will ever come good. As an organisation Red Bull can take a chance by throwing a Honda engine in the back of Toro Rosso knowing there is little to lose and potentially a lot to gain.

    • I’m just curious if Red Bull might not think long about picking up Honda supply and throwing some serious RBR weight behind development. They have the same issue as Macca with Max on payroll and keeping him happy but perhaps start with STR and then develop to a point that it can work for RBR? Just a thought.

      • Glenn

        I agree McLaren are shooting themselves in the foot, its really a no win situation for them. That said, its more than likely sly dealing by RBR who will have STR take on the under performing Honda and if/when Honda get it right then RBR will step in and take over the winning engine supply just like they did when they switched from Ferrari to Renault in 2007 with the Ferrari contract being passed to STR and we all know what happened after that.

  • myusername1234!

    McLaren are desperate to keep Alonso because he is the only top level thing about their team at the moment. On present form and without Alonso McLaren become irrelevant and are basically just another Williams… a has been team that is nice to have on the grid for nostalgia sake but are not a serious contender to win anything.

    Having said that, I do agree with this article. Ditching Honda in favour of Alonso would be short sighted and probably a mistake.

    • I understand your point for sure and I would just add that the folks in Woking know what they’re doing with the chassis. I think they have a good chassis as well as Alonso but as we both agree, a long-term strategy for serious shove in the back of the car is important.

      • някой си

        We don’t know how much of this McLaren chassis performance is coming from the Honda engine – low COG, less kilograms, better balancing, etc. Driving with Renault engine could be completely different story.

        • That’s true. Good or bad. Maybe with Renault, it would work better. I think the chassis and people are there to get it done, just need a long-term partner to take the entire scenario seriously and put the time and resources into the program to win, not just run. I am sure if you asked them, they would say they are taking it very seriously but F1 is a tough game and whatever they are doing, it’s not enough.

      • myusername1234!

        But would the chassis still look good if they had another X number of horse power going through it? Plus as others have pointed out how are we to know how it would perform with different engine characteristics, layout, etc.

        I find it hard to believe that they really have a chance to beat Red Bull or Renault using the same engine, let alone the works Merc or Ferrari.

  • Raj

    If McLaren continues with Honda, they stand losing sponsors. They will also not attract talent. It would be then better to withdraw from formula1 as it would not be viable option. Honda should have listened to McLaren and hired people rather than using their team who had no head and tail knowledge of formula1 having being away from sport.

    • They may but I believe Honda brings a very large portion of their sponsor dollars as it is.

    • Marti J Powell BSc

      Mclaren DON`T have (that many) sponsors – NO title sponsor
      What IS Zac Brown doing?!!Mclar

      If Mclaren drop Honda – last 3 years for NOTHING
      All the DNF`s would be WASTED

      Another team WOULD benefit from Mclaren`s woes
      Mclaren WLOULD simply be HANDING the title to SOMEBODY else

    • Qarbon Nubia

      Similarly who is going to sponsor McLaren if they don’t have Alonso as their Number 1 Driver?

  • Barry

    I think Alonso and should stick with McLaren and McLaren with honda. When Honda comes good all will be happy. If necessary, bring in the added engine gurus . It will help in preparing for the new engines. I never understood how Mercedes got a 2 year jump on everyone else.I know they were in on the thinking during the rules forming, but I would have thought there would have been a start time for planning that would have made the period of development even across the board. I know Mercedes are very clever, but I didn’t think they were that clever. Shifty yes, but not that much more ingenious than Renault, or Ferrari.

    • Junipero Mariano

      I think Ross Brawn got Mercedes to get working on the hybrid technology as soon as they could and sacrificed their results during the Red Bull domination years. Worked out pretty well.

  • adaptable1

    Alonso is one of the oldest drivers on the grid making the top end of the pay scale. McLaren can bring in a pay driver and achieve nearly the same results. While I would love to see Alonso in a car that could win races, I think his years in F1 are numbered. Maybe Jensen pee’d in his seat at Monaco after all!

  • Smee

    YOU ARE DREAMING! Honda will never come good. They will play catch up for the next 4 years. Lack of horsepower is only one issue. Reliability is the other. Trying to catch up will force them to continue to push the envelope, and you think we won’t keep seeing more performances like Monza? YOU ARE DELUSIONAL! And its THREE more years – 2018, 2019, 2020 under current regs, then they switch to the new formula and you HOPE they will be competitive. Even under the previous much simpler engine formula they were not. Stick with Honda and McLaren will become the new Sauber and will be finished in F1.

    • LOL…isn’t that just grand? I’m delusional, dreaming…anything else you’d like to add since we’re immediately attacking people? How else can I make you feel better about your opinion? Can I email you some things you can personally attack me with? Maybe share some of my insecurities so you can highlight those and make your opinion as one that can be written on a rock? Good grief.

      Now, back to reality. Honda has not come on song but they know where they suck. They know the regs, they know where Merc is gaining and where to focus. They may not be making progress fast enough and this is where McLaren, F1 and the FIA need to step in and help. F1 and the FIA need Honda to be competitive and in the series. It’s big picture stuff, not short term keep Alonso stuff. Renault is going to give them a Red Bull kind of performance increase but with Max having a 50% DNF rate, I’m not sure that will make Alonso happy either nor his fans.

      It took RBR 6 years and Mercedes a similar amount of time to come on song and we think Honda McLaren should be winning in 3? Remember all that time that people claimed Schumacher sucked and should never have come out of retirement? yeah, that was development time and when Mercedes was trying to get it right with the chassis etc. No one was calling for a public execution on Mercedes then.

      I’ll give you the respect you deserve and not suggest you’re “DREAMING” because that isn’t how we roll here but I do think it would help all of us to think long term for the sport and not short term in keeping Fernando happy. I think he’s awesome and arguably the best driver on the grid but McLaren bring him opportunities that other teams can’t so he may have that in the back of his mind too. I could certainly be wrong on this, for sure, and that’s fine but I think moving to Renault is short term unless they have a bigger plan behind that which is entirely possible.

      • Smee

        So telling you that you are “dreaming”, or “delusional”, is now considered an attack. Got it. If you need a safe space, I’d suggest that writing opinion articles open to comment isn’t for you. Maybe you should just stick to commenting on other peoples articles like the rest of us. And in case you haven’t noticed, Mercedes didn’t have these pathetic reliability problems in their first year with this engine. They were winning in year 3 of their program, and they just keep getting faster and more reliable every year. Honda can’t even finish a race after 3 years, and you think they will somehow magically catch up in horsepower and reliability. Well we all like to dream don’t we?

        • Charming. We have one, simple rule here. post comments with decorum & civility. that means no personal attacks. It’s not a safe space issue, it is a issue of collegial attitude toward the community here. having the decorum to disagree without marginalizing other’s opinion via comments about them personally.

          this isn’t a case of, “oh, this is an editorial so prepare to get called names and if you can’t handle it, you need to stop writing editorials”. This isn’t a question of me not being able to handle being called names or having my character attacked, it is about the community of new and veteran F1 fans and making a safe harbor for those who engage the community. commenting and using ham-fisted comments about a persons character just isn’t in the spirit of this site.

          Clearly you’re an F1 fan and you follow the sport deep enough to have an opinion on this topic and that’s great. I disagree with some of your position but would never call you “delusional” about it. I don’t think you are “delusional”, I think you are looking at this issue contextually and that’s great but we simply disagree on a few things. That’s ok, doesn’t make either one of us “delusional” or “dreaming”.

          The issue at hand is that you state what has become the norm…and opinion piece with open comments has been reduced to a free-for-all these days and I’m asking you to help change that. I’m asking you and everyone here to be better than that. To have decorum and civility in our interactions and to stop reducing this F1 website to the lowest common denominator of human nature.

          As for Merc, they won one race in 2012 and that was an anomaly. It wasn’t until Lewis joined in 2013, their fourth season, that they started to win races. Regardless, Honda is no where near that performance evolution after three years so I still think your point is on target. What I also think is that long-term, McLaren has limited choices and I’m not sure ditching Honda now is the best move unless they have a plan for 2020’s regulation changes and today’s article about Porsche joining could play in to that but as the article says, they are road car competitors so not sure that would work.

      • p1ngu

        Respectfully, I’d say you’re being more than a little hopeful about Honda’s capability. I think they’re up the creek and are still deciding whether they need a paddle.

        Fernando may or may not be the greatest driver on the grid – it’s pretty hard to tell when he’s driving at 15mph and then retiring the car – but he’s toxic. For that reason I’d not keep him in the team unless I had no other option, but I suspect that’s where McLaren are, at least for the coming year. There are no other credible, experienced, drivers available (or willing), and the few sponsors they have would run a mile if the lineup was Stoffel and, er, some bloke from the bottom of the grid.

        All that said, Honda may well know the regs, and can see where they’re deficient, but they’ve known that for a long time. Where they seem to have a problem is translating this into a workable recovery plan. And in all honesty, I can’t see them getting it right any time soon. The new engine regs in 2 years time means that McLaren can revisit their engine supply strategy sensibly; even if Honda were to get is absolutely right next year (and they’ve said they won’t), you have a very limited window to make hay.

        If you’re McLaren, you have the choice: shoose Renault and be average-to-good (but not spectacular) for the next two years, but at least retain your top engineers & sponsors while you figure out the next-step engine package, or stick with Honda and have another two years of humiliation and still have to figure out the engine supply issue anyway.

        I honestly think it’s an existential issue – Williams were the biggest team on the block for a while, the world’s best. Now look at them. Zak Brown must be looking at McLaren’s slide and wondering if they’re in the same death spiral, and whether to stick or twist.

        Personally I’d twist.

  • Pete

    Pretty sure that mclaren didn’t lose Mercedes engines they chose to go with Honda instead at least according to both mclaren and Mercedes .

    • Hmmm. My understanding is that Mercedes and Ron had a falling out over the Brawn supply deal and then Mercedes bought Brawn GP and that effectively ended their relationship.

    • Shane Dunn

      Don’t believe what they tell you in a press release.

      Ron threw his teddy out the pram over the brawn deal.
      I think the pram followed the teddy too

  • Change “Alonso” for “Senna”, “Schumacher”, “Clark” or “Fangio”. Rephrase the article. “Yeah! Ditch Senna, you should think long term…” Does it still make sense with those names? Do we see F1 only because of the teams? I want the talent of Alonso be put tu good use, as fast as possible. I’m tired of the Mercedes “cruising to victory” show. I need racing. Current F1 is a mess, and the engine regulations are the cause…

    • I want Alonso in top team too but he did have a hand in making the moves he did. I want Max in top team as well as Hulk and many others. I didn’t write this from a driver perspective, I wrote it from a team perspective. Williams, Force India bot have Merc engines…they aren’t winning. McLaren, if they can get it right, could have a great partner in Honda and one who doesn’t have a works team to try and beat.

    • jakobusvdl

      And before 2014, F1 was a mess and aero regulations were the cause……
      F1 isn’t really a mess, lots of things about F1 work very well indeed, but the myth that F1 delivers close racing persists.

      • Guy Fawkes

        I’m fairly new (6 years) as an F1 fan and I kept hearing and reading about how wonderfully close the racing used to be. I’ve since watched quite a few older races and…no. It still looked remarkably similar. Perhaps more cars had a chance of winning, but individual races were still one car or team running away and the next down the grid chasing in vain. Not always, of course, but in general.

        • jakobusvdl

          That’s the way I remember it. That and the high levels of attrition, particularly in the first turbo era.

          • Guy Fawkes

            I’m a former NASCAR fan and it’s the same story there. So much romanticizing the past. I think it’s human nature to remember the “good old days” fondly, even when they weren’t so good.

  • Ion Gordun

    This is not a Honda vs Alonso issue. What all at McLaren know is they have a winning team, bar the engine. I knew from day one and said it that Honda would not deliver – the past 20 years or so are proof of their inability to raise to the top, not just in raw power, but also in reliability. Renault have done that – they won numerous championships. They also demonstrated a better rate of improvement recently, to the tune of winning races with Red Bull. The best arrangement is for Toro Rosso and McLaren to switch engines. McLaren will get closer to achieving its objectives, Honda will stay in F1 and continue to work on its long-term goals (which I doubt they will ever achieve) and TR will benefit from the cash Honda will bring in.

  • Junipero Mariano

    Is Honda going to have some Aha moment and come out equal to Mercedes?
    Ferrari and Renault haven’t had one yet.

    Is developing the F1 hybrid PU just a steady time consuming process that Mercedes got a jump on?

    Moving to Renault for McLaren or Alonso next year may increase reliability (unless you ask Max) but they won’t be giving Ferrari a hard time, let alone Mercedes. Championships for McLaren is going to take long term thinking, it won’t happen next year, or even the year after.

    • From what I’ve read, Honda engineers have been obnoxiously stubborn with the engine development, not accepting any outside opinion. That’s why it’s taking them so long. They’re now getting help from Ilmor, but only because they have run out of excuses, and are clueless. Their corporate culture is what prevents them from having a competitive engine by now, and that’s why Alonso said he needs to go to the factory and see they have changed their ways before trusting they can be competitive anytime soon.

  • Sergio

    At the end of three long years of Honda incompetence that have damaged Alonso’s career and McLaren’s reputation boils down to a Honda vs. Alonso? The prize for the bad work of a giant car manufacturer is to blame Alonso? To punish him after destroying his best years? All respect for Alonso? No way at all, no respect even for fair & square sport and consequences of good or bad work.

  • Paul KieferJr

    Okay, I’m going to be the contrarian here:

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time. McLaren has tried time and again to get Honda to produce a competitive engine. Each time, it has failed miserably. We might as well face this fact: Honda can’t build an engine worth a damn. How many levels of incompetency do you have to have to build something that doesn’t do the job, and how many levels of insanity do you have to have to stick with something that doesn’t work despite all efforts to change that result? For me, I’d rather keep Alonso. Sure, having your own engine supply is a great thing, but how great is it when your engine is, in the words of Niki Lauda, “a >bleep<-box"?

  • Gaetano Colosi

    You do realise that with Alonso’s sense of direction career wise, the moment the Honda is powering a different car to the one he has his backside in it will become class leading. TR will then lead the midfield pack in ’18 and RB will install it in their cars the following year and become title contenders again.

  • Moyti

    This is not about Fernando. This is about winning. Everyone is missing the whole point. Whoever you put on the car with a Honda in it will just be dreaming of making the podium, much more finishing the race. Everybody’s leaving McLaren now because they’re not winning. They have to, they need to. They’ve suffered enough. The bleeding has to stop. Winning is in their DNA and they’ll do anything to achieve it.

  • F1 fan

    This could be a very clever move by Red Bull, Honda will no doubt come up with a great engine (given time). So put the Honda engine in their junior teams car and let it evolve, Red Bull can then switch to Honda and become a works team, once the engine out performs Renault. Hence why Horne stated they would not veto Renault suppling MC. Just a thought.

  • Achim

    I admit, hindsight is a great thing, but I think the whole Alonso signing was a huge mistake by Honda from the start. They wanted to come back to the sport with a bang, and they failed miserably. Renault’s approach last year coming back as a works team was a lot smarter. They knew they were going to suck in the first year, so they went with a rather low-key driver lineup. And so no-one noticed or even cared. This year they got better, they knew they were going to get better, so they also improved by signing Hülkenberg. Honda by signing Alonso however only put a flashlight on their own misery.
    The money for Alonso would have been much better spend on a dyno.

    Having said all that, I think you are right. You can clearly see progress on Hondas sight, and as a team with championship winning aspiration currently you need factory support. Honda will figure it out eventually.

    Main issue seems to be the re-charging part of the battery. When everything is full, they power seems fine, hence good qualifyings and good first laps. Prime example was Spa, which is hard on the e-motor. Long straights, and not many hard breaking zones. So Alonso was spectacular on the first 2 laps (re-passing of Hülkenberg up the Kemel straight!), aaaand that was it then.

  • kcabmi

    There is a third change that really needs to happen, without which things won’t improve enough.

    The man in charge of the Honda engine development needs to go.It is he who isn’t delivering, either because he doesn’t know technically or can’t alter the corporate mindset.

    Change THAT man and a better engine will follow.

    By then Alonso will have retired, so get a fresh young driver for next season and get rid of the endless moaning.

  • Khürt L. Williams

    So it seems you think that Alonso should pay the price — McLaren dropping him — for McLaren’s decision to go with Honda despite their inability to produce an engine that can perform?

    So let’s say McLaren drops Alonso but Honda still can’t deliver who will they get to drive for them? Which current F1 driver do you think wants to lose almost every race to engine failure?

  • jakobusvdl

    I’m certain that McLaren are fully aware of the advantage that being a p.u supplier’s primary team should give them, and a split from Honda would lose them that potential long term strategic advantage.
    However, McLaren are the only ones who get to see into the Honda organisation and see how they work and what their true engineering and adapability capabilities are.
    If they do make the decision to switch to the Renault p.u, then in my mind that will be a massive of a condemnation of Honda’s ability to be an effective p.u provider and partner to the F1 series.
    Maybe the Red Bull organisation think that they could turn Honda’s capabilities and working style around, or think that at least it is worth a try, for the fact it could provide STR and RBR with their dedicated p.u partner.
    We should find out this week!
    As for Alonso, unfortunately he’s very much collateral damage in the process. I’d be amazed if his staying or going was anything more than a secondary factor in the very difficult decision making process that McLaren are going through.

  • Daniel Sebergsen

    For once the norwegian f1 commentator made a good analysis of the whole thing. Red Bull could use toro rosso as mule car to develop the Honda engine. By the time it comes on song Red bull will have a very competitive engine. If this goes down I would think McLaren value Alonso over a long time partnership.

    As you point out. What will McLaren get out of that? A bit more consistent car/engine than they have now. Is that enough for mr. no more radio?

  • jospep4

    I really disagree with your point of view, McLaren have given Honda three years to provide them with a decent PU, Honda has failed miserably as we all know so the prospect of Honda turning it around is a huge gamble for McLaren to take, they tried it, it did not work and apparently it will not work for the short term, we all hope that for the long term it will, but there is no assurance that it will, especially if we consider Honda’s last stint.
    I don’t understand why most of the comments are disregarding Renault’s ability to provide a good PU, they have all the racing pedigree and know how to do it, yes, they are rebuilding themselves but they are showing more progress than Honda. RedBull have been to the podium this season.
    I just think it is more of a gamble to stay with Honda than to change to Renault regardless of who is driving the car, now, if you happen to have, arguably, the best driver on the grid on your payroll, then, why would you want him gone?
    Having Alonso improves your chances of getting there faster, or at least putting up a show and not WASTING any more of your status of being a true racing team, because apart from money and all that what is really at play here is McLaren`s PRESTIGE.

    just a quick reminder:

    Honda have 6 championships as engine supplier
    Renault has 2 constructors championships, 10 champs. as engine supplier and is the third with most race wins in history. (not their first rodeo!)

    All I`m saying is that Alonso is a small part of the equation not the reason behind the decision.

    Saludos desde Mexico !