The chief F1 reporter for the BBC, Andrew Benson, reckons the breaking of a contract between Honda and McLaren could be “good for all”. He is, of course, barking mad and turning into a pit lane sycophant. Rumour has it that McLaren want to end their Honda engine deal and make a switch to Renault power.
To go from a works supplier (with the added benefits of Honda paying £80m for the privilege) to a paying for a customer engine sounds like madness and bad business.
McLaren has an excuse, Honda’s return to the sport as an engine supplier has been embarrassing, littered with engine failures, a lack of power and driveability.
Bernie Ecclestone reckons it’s McLaren’s fault but where ever the blame lies McLaren should have been prepared to take the lows to reach the highs.
McLaren’s engine supply deal with Mercedes lasted 19 years, for the first three years, it was an unreliable and uncompetitive effort.
After three years the wins started to roll in, championships were won (Hakkinen, Hamilton) and then Mercedes returned as a full works team in 2010 after a 50 year absence.
It took Mercedes another 4 years to get to the dominance they enjoy now. If McLaren ends their Honda engine deal then it is a case of McLaren getting caught in the headlights like a herd of deer.
McLaren required patience, their desire to keep Fernando Alonso may well have played a crucial role in determining this potential “rusty nail in the foot” decision.
If Ron Dennis had remained in charge of McLaren F1 he would have decided that no one person is above McLaren, Alonso would have been out of the door.
Dennis knew the value of a full works engine supply and also knew it would be a 10-year project at a minimum. But he probably thought it prudent not to tell Alonso.
Then there is the question of the reliability and competitiveness of the Renault engine, it seems strange that a team would decide to go for a slightly more reliable and competitive engine.
Honda could well end up supplying Toro Roso and in turn, end up supplying Red Bull, it seems most of the development pain was taken by McLaren and Red Bull could end up absorbing the wins.