The McLaren nightmare with Honda power has come to an end with the news that this technical partnership will cease once the 2017 season is over.
McLaren and engine partners Honda have announced they are to end their current technical agreement at the end of the 2017 campaign. The team have been using the Japanese company’s power units for the past three seasons, with very limited success.
“Honda is a great company which, like McLaren, is in Formula 1 to win,” commented Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, McLaren Group Executive Chairman and Executive Committee principal.
“Although our partnership has not produced the desired success, that does not diminish the great history our two companies have enjoyed together, nor our continued efforts to achieve success in Formula 1. At this point in time, it is in the best interests of both companies that we pursue our racing ambitions separately.”
“It is unfortunate that we must part ways with McLaren before fulfilling our ambitions, however, we made the decision with a belief that this is the best course of action for each other’s future,” added Takahiro Hachigo, President & Representative Director of Honda Motor Co. Ltd.
“On behalf of Honda, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to fans who have been very supportive of the team as well as the drivers, team members and everyone involved who shared with us in the joys and disappointments since we began preparing for our return to F1 in 2015. Honda will continue the fight together with McLaren all the way to the end of the 2017 season, and then continue its F1 racing activities in 2018 and beyond.”
Zak Brown, McLaren’s Executive Director, added that despite mixed results, Honda’s “commitment and energy to the mission of success in Formula 1″ could not be doubted.
“They are proven winners and innovators,” he said. “For a combination of reasons our partnership has not flourished as any of us would have wished. It is certainly not for the want of effort on the part of either Honda or McLaren, but the time has come to move ahead in different directions. As fellow racers, we hope to see the great name of Honda get back to the top – our sport is better for their involvement. I know this view is shared by everyone in the sport.”
Since joining forces in 2015, McLaren and Honda had been hoping to rekindle the success that took them to multiple world titles as partners in the late Eighties and early Nineties. However, the team finished just ninth in the standings that first year and sixth last season. In the 2017 table they again lie ninth, with only 11 points.
And so ends the three challenging and difficult seasons with Honda. McLaren will take on Renault power units from 2018 onwards, thanks to a swap deal with Toro Rosso.
McLaren have agreed an engine supply partnership with Renault for the 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons. Despite a combined Formula 1 presence that stretches back to 1977, it will mark the first time that the two brands have ever collaborated.
Meanwhile, Toro Rosso have struck a multi-year agreement to put Honda’s power units in the back of their cars from 2018, having used Renault engines this year as well in 2014 and 2015. In that period they scored 137 points together, with two fourth places their best results.
McLaren say their Renault partnership will be one that will challenge for victory, following three disappointing seasons with Honda power.
“Today’s announcement gives us the stability we need to move ahead with our chassis and technical programme for 2018 without any further hesitation,” said Zak Brown, McLaren Technology Group Executive Director.
“As an organisation, McLaren has always worked extremely hard to form lasting partnerships with its technical suppliers. We’re convinced that we can bring real value to Renault Sport Racing as we work alongside it to develop this current power unit into a regular race winner.”
The deal means that in addition to their own works squad, Renault will have two other championship-winning teams – McLaren and Red Bull – providing feedback on engine development next year.
“This is a strategic decision,” said Jerome Stoll, President of Renault Sport Racing. “This alliance is not only technical and sporting, but also comes with marketing and communication benefits. We know that McLaren will push us hard on track and this competition will be to the benefit of all.”
Best of luck Toro Rosso with Honda power. Hopefully better fortunes for the junior Red Bull team.
As for Carlos Sainz, Renault have announced that he will join them from Toro Rosso for 2018, though Carlos will only be ‘on loan’ from Red Bull.
The 23-year-old Spaniard will partner Nico Hulkenberg in a revised line-up, bringing Jolyon Palmer’s two-season spell with the team to a close.
“Carlos Sainz is a very promising driver who has been on our radar for some time, especially after his successes in Renault junior formulae,” said Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director of Renault Sport Racing.
“It is positive news for us to be able to confirm Carlos for 2018. This choice is well aligned with our mid-term strategic plans. We feel that Nico and Carlos will complement each other on and off track and the combination should help us push forwards on the grid.
“I would like to thank [Red Bull motorsport consultant ] Helmut Marko for loaning Carlos to us for this period. We must thank Jolyon for his ongoing hard work with the team and his efforts over the past two seasons. He is a dedicated driver and we wish him the best in the next steps of his career.”
Sainz, who has raced in 53 Grands Prix to date, scoring 100 points with a best finish of sixth place, expressed his delight with the move.
“I’m very happy to be joining Renault Sport Formula One Team,” he said. “To be a Formula 1 driver for a manufacturer team is an honour and I hope to reward Renault’s faith in me with my very best performances on track.
“The trajectory of Renault Sport Formula One Team is exciting and I’m proud to join at such an important time in their history. I am looking forward to working with everyone at Enstone and Viry, and driving alongside Nico Hulkenberg.
“I have worked closely with Renault in Formula 1 and previously in motorsport, so I know their motivation and capabilities. This is the start of a very exciting new chapter in my career.
“I would like to say thank you to Red Bull for all their confidence and support and for allowing me to take this opportunity. Last but not least, I specially want to thank all the people that work in Toro Rosso. They are a fantastic team of professionals and I wish them the best for the future.”
Red Bull’s Marko said he wished Sainz the best of luck in his new role, and, with reigning GP2 champion Pierre Gasly waiting in the wings, hinted that the Spaniard’s move would open the door for another young driver at Toro Rosso.
“He is a tremendous talent and he will benefit from working with a manufacturer team alongside a highly experienced driver,” said Marko of Sainz. “This will give Carlos a different challenge and we will be keenly watching his progress there as he remains part of the Red Bull family.
“This is very good development for both Carlos and Renault Sport Formula One Team and will also allow us to bring a new talent into Formula One.”
So a crazy swap shop deals in the world of Formula 1. McLaren are now Renault. Toro Rosso will use Honda and Carlos Sainz gets a promotion to a top works team.