McLaren and Honda Finalize F1 Divorce
Toro Rosso will run Honda power units in 2018 with McLaren switching to Renault engines. Fernando Alonso may stick with McLaren.
The McLaren-Honda revival has died. At least, McLaren and Honda have let the world know when the divorce will be final: after the final lap of the 2017 Formula 1 season.
McLaren announced September 14 that they would switch to Renault power units for 2018. That ends the rocky three-season partnership with Honda as an engine supplier.
The Guardian and several other sources suggest that retention of Fernando Alonso played a key role in McLaren’s decision. Alonso remains one of F1’s top drivers, which has largely been wasted by uncompetitive Honda power units.
The Spanish driver has seldom hidden his frustration with Honda, who gave him an ill-fated Indianapolis 500 drive. Alonso scored his two world championships with Renault more than a decade ago. While that may not factor into the decision directly, it does cast the situation in a slightly more favorable light.
However, McLaren has not re-signed Alonso for 2018 yet. Fernando suggested to The Guardian that an announcement would be forthcoming “in a couple weeks.” Given that McLaren has taken the steps he requested – i.e. dumping Honda – we think it likely he sticks around.
When McLaren and Honda partnered to enter the 2015 F1 season, fans hoped it would resurrect a legend. The McLaren-Hondas of the last 1980s and early 1990s remain some of the most iconic cars in the series’ history.
Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost combined to win eight F1 championships (four drivers, four constructors) for the Marlboro-sponsored McLarens from 1988 to 1991 with Honda power.
However, the resurrected McLaren-Honda disappointed in its 2015 return. The power units have made a modicum of progress in 2017. However, the combination ultimately proved frustrating, particularly with a string of engine failures early in this season for Alonso.
Honda gets horns
Honda won’t disappear from Formula 1 in 2018, however. Scuderia Toro Rosso, the junior team to Red Bull F1, has inked a three-year deal with Honda as engine supplier starting in 2018, according to Autosport.
Toro Rosso has yet to confirm their driver lineup for 2018, although Autosport reported that Carlos Sainz Jr. will head to Renault next year. That move theoretically would put the French engine supplier at ease over their Toro Rosso contract’s early termination.
However, if Honda puts together a competitive package for 2018, “senior team” Red Bull may also switch to the big H down the road. That news comes as the BBC reports that Red Bull will also split with Renault after the 2018 season.
Red Bull chief Christian Horner has voiced displeasure with Renault on occasion, so this doesn’t seem particularly far-fetched. Maybe a Honda powerhouse isn’t too far removed from reality, then. What do you think?
[Photos: McLaren Formula 1,