Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017

McLaren ‘approached Mercedes over engines’

F1 Fanatic Round-upPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

In the round-up: McLaren has approached Mercedes over the possibility of using its engines following its troubled start to the season with Honda.

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Comment of the day

@AndrewT volunteers one very good reason why the solution to McLaren’s problems isn’t simply plugging in a different engine.

During the current turbo era, three seasons and 59 races have passed. 51 of them was won by the factory Mercedes team, but no other Mercedes powered car scored any of the remaining wins (three for Red Bull in 2014, three for Ferrari in 2015, two for Red Bull in 2016). I would say, that McLaren could match Williams and Force India with a Mercedes engine, but I wouldn’t expect much more.
@AndrewT

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103 comments on “McLaren ‘approached Mercedes over engines’”

  1. It is without a doubt nearing critical point for McLaren now. They can’t shrug it off anymore, as much as they may try it’s like putting a plaster over a bullet hole.

    Surely it’s fair to say another dismal season is straight up unacceptable for them. It’s painful to watch now.. seriously.

    1. @nemo87 I think it is even worse for Honda, McLaren will most likely survive this, even if they have to jump ship and go with another engine

      but in a world where the automotive industry is going hybrid/electric can Honda have this blunder in their resume? If they don’t sort it out will be basically saying that they can’t do it.

      1. Of course Honda can survive this blunder.
        By any metric you choose to apply, the new NSX’s hybrid powertrain is a success. I don’t think a failed stint in a global sport still struggling with relevance would hurt them much.

        Look at Audi. Not even their success with diesel powertrain in WEC could overcome the negative sentiments heaped upon them thanks to Dieselgate.

        1. @fihar “survive” was a bit too much. But I’m sure it will have an impact.

      2. Fukobayashi (@offdutyrockstar)
        17th March 2017, 9:32

        The new NSX has been praised by all quarters for essentially being a cut price 918 Spyder. I think they are ok on the production vehicle front

        1. I’d say the NSX reviews have been a little mixed. Pricing on some new NSXs are starting to fall below MSRP, which isn’t looking good for a car this new.

        2. @offdutyrockstar Really? I have never read anything close to it.

          1. Fukobayashi (@offdutyrockstar)
            17th March 2017, 19:51

            Yes. I’m not a Honda fan nor would I spend my hard earned on one but their production vehicle engines have always been a bit special. Remember the S2000 that revved to 9000 RPM? The hydrogen powered vehicle they pioneered? And with reference to my comment:

            http://www.carscoops.com/2017/01/chris-harris-sees-honda-nsx-as-cut.html

            http://mashable.com/2016/03/14/2017-acura-nsx-review/#eFPULlcIsGqO

            http://www.evo.co.uk/honda/nsx
            “The £130,000 Honda NSX hybrid supercar is actually quite hard to pin down. In essence it is a bit like a mini Porsche 918 Spyder”

            Which publications have you been reading my friend?

      3. Probably than visiting Mercedes is a way from McLaren to raise the threat to Honda and make them accept mclaren terms (choice of engineer, now you listen to what we say,…)

      4. ofcourse Honda will have survive, and havegreat sales, no one really cares about f1 related to road cars, the same way they didn’t care when NISSAN failed far far worse in LMP1 in the WEC just recently. most fans appreciate the current spec of f1 cars is stupid and complicated.

    2. @nemo87 – I agree that it is time to look elsewhere, and disagree with the COTD.

      If Brawn can slap a Merc engine in car planned for Honda and win races, there is no reason to think that McLaren cannot improve their situation considerably. I don’t think we should assume that McLaren will win races right away, or this season, but surely they will be better sorted for 18 and 19.

      Few (if any) people seem to make the comment that Renault’s return as a works team means that Red Bull will never win again. But somehow McLaren will never beat the Mercedes works team. I don’t think the logic follows.

      I do think it will take time because McLaren have not been designing around a Merc powerplant for years now, and they will need to get the rest of their car up to snuff. But if the power were reliable and at a level near the sharp end of the grid, the rest of the team could focus on aero, downforce, handling, grip, etc. I may be an optimist but I think it would put them in the right direction and within a year or two (given proper hires) they could be fighting at the top again.

  2. If they’re not making progress, they really need to look elsewhere. The trouble is they have contracts in place, and they might need to financial or legal trickery to get out of them.
    I don’t believe McLaren would be winning races left and right with a merc engine though.

    1. I’d imagine there’s a ‘performance’ clause in there somewhere giving them a key to the exit door

  3. This story about Mclaren looking at Mercedes engine is the typical drivel we can expect from Benson.

    The question is simple, can Mclaren afford to lose 100 millon odd bucks a year? Possibly not.

    On paper, the Honda situation looks bad, but they’ve effectively started from scratch with a new engine. Their concept in 2015 was flawed, no thanks to the size-zero philosophy that Mclaren have to shoulder part of the blame for as well. In 2016, they more or less maximized the performance from flawed concept. Their reliability markedly improved last season as well.

    They will improve this year, possibly after the summer break.

    Depending on how the contracts are setup, Mclaren need to make a serious effort into convincing Honda to being more transparent and open to outside help.

    1. It’s a unique situation for McLaren. Like other teams have “pay drivers”, Mclaren seems to have got a “pay engine” in their car. Akin to Maldonado in Williams. Maldonado would pay a lot but crash the car. Here Honda is paying a lot but its engine keeps blowing up.

      Well, Williams did come out of the situation when a veteran driver who carried some sponsors with him became available (Massa). So, now McLaren need a veteran engineer supplier who can plaster some sponsors on McLaren. May be Ferrari can supply its engine but re-brand it is Alfa Romeo? or Renault can supply but re-brand it as Infiniti. There are viable and feasible solutions that can be implemented. All hope is not lost, I truly believe.

      1. I think you nailed it with the “pay engine” philosophy. That’s exactly the situation they find themselves in.

        1. I disagree. A real pay driver is already at his maximum level of skill and has no potential for improvement (why Stroll isn’t a real pay driver, just a rich rookie).
          Honda’s new PU can be seen like Stroll, A crashing new rookie with lots of potential, and a faulty new PU yet to be perfected.

          Maldonado only became a real pay driver once he showed he wasn’t improving at Lotus.

          1. @the-last-pope

            The only problem with your argument is that Honda really doesn’t have any potential to improve. Lance Stroll might or might not be Formula 1 material… but Honda has proved to that they aren’t capable of competing in this sport to begin with.

          2. That isn’t true Todford.

      2. @sumedh. McLaren will never ever buy Ferrarie engines, never. Back to Mercedes is the only option.

        1. why not? Ron Dennis is not there anymore

          1. kpcart, it’s probably based on the assumption that Ferrari will never want to sell them one in the first place.

    2. The question is simple, can Mclaren afford to lose 100 millon odd bucks a year? Possibly not.

      I’ve got a few more questions –
      Can Mclaren afford to lose it’s revenue from accumulating 150 to 200 points lesser in the WCC? Can Mclaren afford to not get another title sponsor for 2018? Can Mclaren afford to become unattractive to top tier drivers? Can Mclaren afford to finish DEAD LAST in the championship?

      1. “Can Mclaren afford to finish DEAD LAST in the championship?”

        Sure McLaren took a gamble, to try to win a championship, certainly with Mercedes engines they would atleast be around Williams pace?

        1. If one used the 2015 season payout as a guide, being last this season would earn just $42.7M (I am excluding the Extra Paltry Manor Racing Payout of $10.0M because there is no Eleventh team this season), meaning McLaren-Honda can expect a total income (excluding advertising revenue) of $142.7M, which is more than Mercedes earned from the TV rights payout in 2015.

    3. McLaren’s contact with Mercedes was characterised by sources as informal and brief and has not led to any resolution on either side.

      I read that as: “Upon packing, one McLaren mechanic jokingly asked one Merc mechanic “do you still need that one?” about an engine that has already done testing.”

      1. Duncan Snowden
        17th March 2017, 14:48

        Heh. Me too. :)

        To be fair, it was probably slightly more than that. My guess is that they’re making soundings in case they decide not to renew the Honda contract when it ends: if the PU’s still not up to scratch by then, what might be available? And they’re doing it now to give Honda a bit of a kick up the backside. But it’s amazing how one “brief and informal” approach can send the internet crazy.

  4. Regarding COTD, that the whole idea behind using Honda engines and why Alonso says that it’s the only way to beat Mercedes, other than being in a good Ferrari (once every decade, at best) or on a Red Bull, which is virtually impossible for him.

    It’s the obvious way: being an official team, a works team as it’s called in BTCC. You can’t beat Mercedes using their engines, it’d be stupid to think that Mercedes would freely supply rival teams with one of their main advantages in the game.

    1. Yet McLaren easily beat Mercedes from 2010-2012 when they had Lewis Hamilton.

      1. They did but then Mercedes was busy for team building. I think both team had equal status since Mercedes had Mclaren stocks and they were better. Now? Not a chance.

      2. Engines were pretty much spec back then. Today it’s a whole other ballgame.

    2. exactly @fer-no65,

      if they want to ditch Honda and be proper candidates to both tittles they would be better of luring someone new into the sport. Being a client of Mercedes will always be connected to that handicap, and they won’t be able to beat them at their own game. They might have a few podiums, maybe a win here a there, but that will be pretty much it, a short fix to their current situation

      They could eventually have a deal similar to RB/Renault, but with who? Renault themselves? And be subjected to the comparison of fighting with RB?

      In my opinion there could be a few alternatives if they manage to entice them. BMW, which as a lot of relevant technology, but oddly it is not competing in any hybrid series (apart from a small partnership with Amlin Andretti FE), Toyota could eventually transfer their technology from WEC and finally (probably a really long shot) Peugeot, they have been building awful cars for years now, so some exposure wouldn’t hurt them.

      Nevertheless, this could also be a PR stunt from McLaren to pressure Honda, especially because they have a long term contract, if they aren’t able to reach them properly due to the way Honda goes about with their business.

      Either-way everything looks tense in that relationship at the moment, for a partnership they seem to be work too independently.

      1. When McLaren switched to the Honda PU, they were saying in the build up that unless you were a manufacturer team, you didn’t stand a chance with the current generation of PU’s. Even if parity PU’s were being offered to customer teams, the big thing they can have a difference with is the software, a few minor tweaks concealed within the software and the whole PU is down 50 horsepower and a few ft/lbs of torque.

        I am very surprised that Honda haven’t got their reliability improved, even if during the testing they were running a low power setting, to get the laps on the board with the unit to see what was happening. The whole sizing concept no longer washes, Honda have been with McLaren long enough for them to say what requirements of airflow need to pass over the PU to externally assist the cooling and where to locate items which may benefit from further air cooling. From the actual combustion engine side, Honda have there own heritage to look at with the likes of their 1986 1.5l turbo that generated over 1000 horsepower (admittedly the reliability of the era was shocking and genrally only lasted for one race or quali), which could give them some direction of what they can do to improve.

      2. Was their not talk – deep, dark, distant rumors of the Volkswagen Group group entering F1 with Redbull using the Lamborghini name……

        A even longer long shot…. imagine a rebadged Ferrari engine under the name Alfa in a McLaren……

        1. Until the emissions scandal broke

  5. Again with the budget cap. It’s practically impossible to enforce, get it through your heads.
    But let’s suppose that it was possible to enforce. Would it include driver salaries? Yes? Then say goodbye to the best drivers, they’ll head elsewhere. No? Then Sauber will still be hiring rich Maldonados while the top teams get the talent. Same for technical staff like Newey.
    And what are the top teams supposed to do with excess money? ‘Cause the cap would obviously be less than what the top teams spend. No, they’re going to find a way to spend it, you can be sure of that.
    And again with the cutting costs. “Oh, F1 is too expensive, we need to cut costs. I know! Let’s replace the cheap and stable V8s with the most complex and expensive hybrid power units ever conceived. And why not re-write the regulations every couple of years, too, so the teams have to start over? That should bring costs down.”

    1. @ironcito, the V8 engines weren’t cheap in reality – when first introduced they were, inflation adjusted, just as expensive as the current engines, if not even more so (whilst a supply of a works V10 engine in that era was actually more expensive than a current engine deal is now, at least going by the rates that Sauber reportedly had to pay).

      They only appeared to be cheap because the FIA eventually forced the teams to sell those engines at an artificially low price. We know that Renault alone was making an annual loss of about €60 million on engine sales in 2013 because they were forced to sell the engines below cost.

      1. Well, at least in V10 times you got a whole lot more engines for ya money. Remember Mclaren putting in new engines for qualifying, then again switching for new engines just after qulalyf…hey wait a minute! That’s exactly what they do now!!

  6. Also 15 years ago today Senna’s car was returned by the italian police to Williams and immediately cremated.

    On a different note: With everyone talking about the spectacular new Suspension concept of Merc and toro rosso, have a close look at this wonderful Lotus :-)
    http://mooregoodink.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Lotus-in-paddock.jpg

    1. come one @mrboerns after all the banter from yesterday, did you needed to put a picture with a McLaren lagging behind?

      1. Some say it was because of this suspension arm. Apparently bruce never got the hang of it either.

      2. @johnmilk
        Well, anything else would ‘alternative facts’ … ;-)

  7. Everyone is starting from scratch with the 2017 engines, but it seems it’s only Honda who don’t have a clue what direction to take.
    If the performance was there and there were reliability issues, one could be convinced to be patient. But Honda are both slow and unreliable. It’s a worn out excuse saying they started 3 years late. What did they learn from their previous 2 years.
    It is reassuring when the lead engineer or project manager, says he’s scared of running his engines against the competition. That is as good as saying we have failed.

  8. Estaban de los Casas
    17th March 2017, 1:41

    Should have traded Alonso to Mercedes and in return gotten Mercedes engines. They blew it on both ends. They didnt get the engines snd now they lose their driver almost for certain. Sounds like McLaren are a work in progress. Stay tuned for results…not !!

    1. Yeah I think there’s something to what you are saying except for the timing. They didn’t know about Nico retiring until it would have been too late for Mac to dump Honda and install Mercs and deal FA. Perhaps for next year though.

  9. New PU old problems. It was a risk but it’s because of the unfreeze that we may see Honda suddenly come up with the greatest PU any time soon. Last year they had to live with a flawed concept in the same way Ferrari had to live with a flawed concept in 2014, Honda’s mistake was not to realise sooner that they had to pursue another avenue, that said Honda on some tracks looked to be on par with Renault and well ahead of STR.

  10. McLaren may have an even worse season than 2015. Is there any confidence that McLaren will be able to have either or both cars go the complete race distance in Melbourne? Now it’s not even about scoring points, merely completing a race would be a major accomplishment. Without a momentous breakthrough to solve their engine problem, McLaren/Honda could be looking at last place in the Constructor’s race. I can see why they are said to have approached Mercedes. Desperation should be setting in by now.

    1. They might aswell be dead last.

  11. Every time Damon Hill opens his mouth I want to shut it for him.

    Hamilton, no doubt, is one of the best drivers on the grid but he’s not indispensable. Any number of the current drivers could have won the championship if they were driving the Mercs of 2014, 2015 and 2016. Most certainly Alonso, Vettel, Ricciardo, Button or Raikkonen. That’s not to say that they would have beaten Hamilton necessarily but they would have beaten everyone who wasn’t driving a Merc and thus could be champion.

    I’m not impugning Hamilton’s achievements but if he were to throw his toys out of the cot……again……and left Merc, there’s a myriad of other extremely talented drivers who could win them the title providing Merc gave them the car to do so.

    1. None of those drivers would have beat Rosberg with the same reliability. The most likely of those would be Alonso as he’s great at starts, that’s of course if those poor getaways were Hamilton’s fault which I doubt anyway.

      1. Irrelevant as long as Merc gets a 1 and 2 result each race, why would they care who is driving the car or which driver came first and which driver came second?

        1. So why the hell would they need Alonso then?????

          1. Mercedes wouldn’t need Alonso and they didn’t need Hamilton. All they needed was a decent driver and they would have won both championships regardless.

    2. @irukaviking The thing is though Mercedes don’t have Hamilton in the team purely because he is one of the best drivers if not the best depending upon your viewpoint, on the grid. They pay his massive salary because of the performance he can put in on the track and the reach he has off the track. Mercedes is afterall (list most of the other teams) in F1 for the promotion of their brand, among other things of course. There isn’t a driver on the grid that even comes close to Hamilton in terms of marketability.

      So while yes they could have put another driver in the ’14,’15 & ’16 Merc alongside Rosberg and more than likely still won the constructors championship, that’s not what Mercedes want or need. They need a driver who can reach that large audience and promote the success of the team and in turn brand. Mercedes will love the fact that Hamilton spends his free time jetting around the world enjoying his life while generating news articles. Because those articles start by saying “Lewis Hamilton driver of Mercedes AMG F1 team” It’s promotion above what his contract requires him to do.

      When he is done enjoying his down time he comes back and gives Mercedes what they need on the track. There isn’t another driver on the grid that can match Hamilton’s performance on track and match his marketability. Compare Hamiltons social media reach, the news cycle coverage, the interest level from public etc.. compare those against the other drivers and that’s why Hamilton is important to Mercedes and why Hill has a point when he says Mercedes need to keep Hamilton happy or he will leave and he will take that with him. The majority of those aren’t fans of Lewis Hamilton because he drives for Mercedes, they are fans of Mercedes because Lewis Hamilton drives for them.

      The only team that bucks this trend is Ferrari, where a previously seemingly unpopular driver amongst fans generally (not always) gains a lot of support when they put on those red overalls. The same applies to Williams to some degree but on a much smaller scale.

      1. PREACH PREACH PREACH. You hit the nail on the head.

      2. Yeah cause 13 year old girls buy so many Mercedes!

        1. @asherway While the majority of Hamiltons fans aren’t actually 13-year-old girls, no matter what illusions twitter replies will give you, but you miss the massive point. Those 13-year-old girls and boys don’t buy Mercedes…Yet, I remember Marco Mattiacci talking to the press, clearly not a good TP but a salesman, he said that the people that buy Ferraris almost always have wanted a Ferrari for 30+ years before then can actually buy one, they feel in love with the brand at a young age. This is why it’s so important to exposure your brand to the young, much easier to get a young person’s mind on board with your brand than it is an adult. How many of those young Hamilton fans will want to drive a Mercedes when they are older because their favourite driver drives one? It’s about the future not just the present.

          1. @woodyd91 – how do you know the demographics of Hamilton fans? And how do you know to what degree his followers are his fans? Social media is not that simple.

          2. @asherway There are various tools online that can help you with that very thing. When it comes down to followers or fans, well there that would be the same for every single driver on the grid, not unique to Hamilton alone.

            Besides whether a person follows Hamilton because they are a fan of F1 or another reason really doesn’t change the point, they still follow and are therefore can be marketed too.

      3. @woodyd91
        I highly doubt that there would be any significant change in the amount of cars Mercedes sell if Hamilton was replaced by Alonso, for instance. Mercedes is known worldwide as a top car manufacturer already, amen Formula 1 is really not all that popular or influential globally.

        Formula 1 did a poll asking hundreds of thousands of fans who their favourite driver was and Hamilton wasn’t even in the top 3 (Kimi, Alonso and Button were all ahead).

        1. @kingshark There was an interesting article on the BBC about this, think it was around the close of the 2014 season, it covered exactly that, Mercedes sales since Hamilton had joined, the data from the article most certainly showed an uptake in sales, enough for according to the article at least, to cover Hamiltons salary. Will see if I can find the article and post link as a comment.

          Yeah the GPDA survey, think it was 200,000 people who replied, did you notice something about the top 3 though? All world champions who haven’t won a race in years. It does not surprise me in the slightest that a survery taken in 2016 has other drivers above Hamilton and Vettel for example, there it a habit among F1 fans to do such things. Kind of a kickback because of constant winning, Vettel for example is more popular now/less disliked than when he was at Red Bull constantly winning. Being popular among a core fanbase, who spent over 25 mnutes filling out a survery for the sport is one thing, but that’s not markabilty. 1 Survey by 200,000 of a fan base of what around 350 million now is not a good indication of how marketable a driver is, you would need constant re questioning to get any meaningful data from that, thats why almost nothing that has come from the survery has been put into practise in F1

  12. McLaren also wish they could have Hamilton back as well. Lewis made sure there were winning ways.

  13. I think Brawn knows ‘what’ to do to drive costs down, he now needs some lobbying to get teams to agree on his ‘how’.

  14. I’m not surprised at all that Mclaren have approached Mercedes. In fact, I would think it’s the most logical thing to do. I’m sure Honda is contemplating it’s future in the sport currently, so it makes sense that even Mclaren does the same.

    While everyone suggests that it makes no sense for Mclaren to go back to Mercedes engines, I think it’s the perfect choice for them to make. Sure, no team in the Hybrid turbo era has won a race as a Mercedes customer, but then again, a lot of teams have been lifted in their performance due to being Mercedes customers. Williams and Force India are the strongest midfield contenders and Manor actually scored a point last year.

    While Mclaren might not win championships as a Mercedes customer, it is highly likely that they will get more podiums and maybe even occasional wins with Mercedes power. With Honda they have suffered massive setbacks to their racing goodwill, and although Honda has footed the bill for a lot of their expenses, I’m sure there are other financial setbacks associated with their new found back marker status. The loss occurring from getting 150-200 points lower in the championship must be having massive financial consequences, not to mention the absolute lack of interest from sponsors. I’m pretty sure that Mclaren have done the math to find out that their partnership with Honda is not as profitable as meets the eye.

    While people might still think that being a works team is the only way to win a WCC and WDC, they need to be more pragmatic when it comes to Honda’s abilities. Honda is a disaster. While theoretically they might be able to build an engine capable of winning championships, practically, it’s obvious for everyone to see that they aren’t even F1 material to begin with.

    It boils down to the odds of Honda producing a championship winning engine versus the odds of a Mercedes customer competing for the WDC. Personally, I think it’s less of a miracle for a Mercedes customer to win a WCC as compared to Honda making a championship winning engine. The switch to Mercedes is also safer for Mclaren in the short term as they can at least return to the best of the rest status. A few years form now the regulations could change and engines could be frozen. The focus could mov away from Power units… and suddenly Mclaren wouldn’t be handicapped anymore.

    1. @todfod – Right now it seems critical McLaren do something to salvage their situation even if it means going with the Mercedes engine again. I’m skeptical the Honda engine can even complete races. If it does, it will not likely finish in points scoring positions without some sort of major breakthrough. 2017 looks to be worse than 2015 for McLaren/Honda.

      I really believed Honda would have come through with a decent engine by now. Something to at least compete in the midfield and have moderate reliability. They appear to be nowhere at present.

    2. @todfod Mercedes power should be damage limitation rather than long term solution indeed. I can’t see Mercedes would give them a chance to win but as you said, Mclaren could salvage themselves. then They have to find other supplier to make them works status again. It might takes several years since there’s no manufacturer interested in F1. Maybe best possible way is develop their own engine, like Ferrari.

    3. Alonso : A Championship in Mc-Honda or Points in Mc-Merc
      The question is will alonso agree to Mclaren who is getting Points but not wins and championships as they are only customer team of Merc with odd podiums and wins whilst Merc screaming to take the wins like now. The reason why he gone to mclaren is Mclaren Honda is the works team that has the ability to match or Beat Merc. Atleast That’s what Honda and MC sold him. Will Alonso stay if he has to fight for Points mostly instead of wins and championship

      Mclaren – The Choice : A Pay Engine or A Competitive Engine
      Mclaren doesn’t pay the Wages of Alonso as it was done by Honda also they invest some money in Mclaren team
      Now if they decide to ditch Honda who pays lot of money and gives free engines can they atleast had enough money to survive until they produce results and had gather a big title sponsor, if they risk it all and fail again to gather big title sponsor what they can do after that
      (credit to sumedh for creating the Pay engine Concept )
      The Biggest Failure : Honda and FIA
      FIA not allowing the free engine development right from 2014 is what kept teams chasing Merc still , doesn’t mean that Merc can be caught with no restrictions on Development but there will be possibility that instead of 3 years teams may converge with 2 years or even less.
      Honda for not even able to develop an engine with no restrictions in place, but all hope is not lost if they have power deep inside that pu once they make reliable they can extract it. Question is how long it takes and how much more patience it costs for both teams

    4. A few years form now the regulations could change and engines could be frozen. The focus could mov away from Power units… and suddenly Mclaren wouldn’t be handicapped anymore.

      @todfod
      are you sure about this ?
      If the Power Units as they are called consists of MGU-K/MGU-H/TC/ES/CE/ICE was decided to ditch or reduce the Hybrid part all the teams will come closer again as the ICE are more or less getting same power its the Hybrid part which is what increasing the gap between Engine Developers. But which manufacturer apart from may be Honda agree to having the less focus from Power Units.
      Although the new Power Unit for 2021 and forwards will be decided before the end of the year 2017.

  15. I wonder if another shift in the F1 pecking order is about to happen, as it does once every 10 years or so. Fifteen years ago, the top team – Williams – went from hero to zero in 4 seasons. Their relationship with BMW never really got off the ground, and each season just got worse and worse. McLaren and Honda seem to be repeating that story to some extent.

    Also, Mercedes won’t be in F1 forever. Another year of clean sweeps and the management may well decide to call it a day, at least for a while. I’m wondering if Paddy Lowe’s move to Williams might presage another shift – McLaren becoming a midfield team while Williams return to the top step. Their share price has certainly improved!

    1. That’s an interesting point. I think we should not underestimate the interest Mercedes put on Formula E. I think many Formula 1 fans are underestimating the appeal Formula E is bringing not only to manufacturers, but audiences of motorsport world wide. The auto industry is quickly shifting to electric power. We may point to Tesla’s success story, possibly a big impact of their Model 3 car, but the truth is every single major manufacturer has pointed to serious development for affordable, “green” electric machines. Its the “hot new thing right now”, and the consumer demand points there.

      Formula E also gives access for racing in major urban areas with positive PR and green government friendly messages like no pollution, sustainable future that are all very much part of every single major worldwide city discourse.

      Manufacturers like Renault, Jaguar, Citroen (with the DS brand), Audi and later Mercedes all committed now or in the future in Formula E.

      Formula 1 is actually in a bit of a defining moment. They should take a look into its essence and define itself as the pinnacle of motorsport. Hybrid engines are interesting. The technologies cutting edge. But one thing they should have no doubt, is that Formula E is a direct competitor. And Formula 1 needs to really take a closer look at its place in the motorsport world. The day Formula E gets faster, doesn’t need to switch cars and gets a proper manufacturer competition is the day when we see the migration of the world’s best drivers to it. And Formula 1 becomes a series of nostalgia fans.

      It wouldn’t surprise me at all that Williams, McLaren and even Ferrari join Formula E in the near future.

      1. I agree with the idea, but absent any dramatic and unexpected battery tech breakthroughs (as opposed to the relentless incremental improvement we have at the moment), it’s between five and ten years off.

  16. Neil (@neilosjames)
    17th March 2017, 8:14

    I struggle to put into words how disappointed I am with Honda. How can any company with their resources, aided by whatever McLaren tell them, repeatedly mess up the way they have?

    If they don’t do something miraculous with their 2017 engine, that’ll be three seasons of their incompetence consigning Alonso, one of the best drivers of his generation… or any generation… to the midfield (at best), and as a fan of the sport as a whole rather than of drivers that really, really annoys me. I want to see the best guys up front, or at least near the front, and the one I consider as (very close thing) the best hasn’t even had a sniff for several seasons. Worse, he’s approaching the end of his career, so I may never again see him fighting for wins.

    And now Vandoorne has finally (black mark from me to McLaren for the delay) arrived, Honda look all set to stop us getting a good, proper look at one of the most exciting young talents to emerge in the past decade.

    If they can’t get it right by the end of this season, I doubt they ever will.

  17. We all know Red Bull also approached Mercedes 2015 and how it panned out. Asking is one thing, actual contract is another. I’m not sure Toto would allow it dislike Red Bull case even though Mclaren seems much weaker than Red Bull in terms of chassis.

    I don’t believe Mercedes powered MCL32 would win race as Eric said. also I don’t believe Mclaren-Mercedes would be able to win a title because they won’t be works team anymore. to become another Williams shouldn’t be Mclaren’s ambition(even without Ron Denis) although it might be inevitable considering several years of down spiral.

    as for Alonso, I think only chance to keep him is Honda miracle in a couple of races. If Mclaren-Honda can finish 4~5th before summer, that’s only hope.

    1. If they go back to Mercedes, it should be interim solution than long term. I don’t think any team without works status nowadays. so Mercedes power should make Mclaren strong midfielder but winner. Still it might be better than struggle with Honda for a couple of years.

      Problem is there’s no other company interested in F1. BMW, VW won’t come to F1 since they committed Formula E. Toyota has WEC and their hybrid technique should overwhelm Honda but I’m not sure Toyota can expand their motorsports portfolio wider than now. They’re really stretching their legs since they’re involved in WEC, WRC and various Japan series. in any case, new manufacturer won’t come in a couple of years, as late as 2020.

      Then another dilemma pops out. Same performance can be archived even with Honda PU around 2020 without need for finding another manufacturer and couple of engine change in several years. Maybe it’s good to stick with them and stay strong? All down to Honda’s recovery after Melbourne.

  18. McLaren have partly created this situation by blocking any other teams from using Honda engines..
    Honda wanted to supply Red Bull, but was blocked by McLaren.
    This has limited the miles and therefore the data that Honda could work with..

    Now McLaren say that if they had the same engine as others they would win! haha. If they were so sure of themselves then why so scared to give out a Honda engine.. You dug your hole now lie in it Mclaren.

    1. I think Red Bull are thanking their lucky stars that Mclaren blocked the Honda engine supply deal. Could you even imagine the quantity of whines exiting Horner’s mouth if they started their pre season with a largest stint of 11 laps and 30kmh down on straights?? Honda would have left the sport after Horner publicly humiliated them like he did Renault.

      I don’t think supplying a second team would help Honda much either. They still haven’t figured out how to use a dyno properly, and they still cannot analyse the information collected from their sole customer currently. There is no way in hell that Honda even has the capability of working with another team.

      Going by their current run rate of engine failures, I do not think they have the capacity to build the 100+ power units required for them to supply two teams either. Overall, I’m just not buying the excuse that supplying a second team has really handicapped Honda so far.

    2. I dont see how Honda supplying Redbull will have given a different outcome, unless in the news media, and endless tantrums.

      1. Data and mileage. Data would be key in identifying potential (or obvious) problems. The more data the better one can approach this.

        1. The point is that Honda cannot identify problems to begin with. They haven’t figured out the problem on Stoffel’s car yet… and it’s been a month. It would just be a longer list of stuff they haven’t figured out if they supplied another team

          1. Exactly.
            Honda, I believe changed the engine 7 times on one car over 8 days of testing. It probably wasn’t 8 times because it would have been pointless on the last day. Imagine having 14 engine changes on 2 cars, were they to be supplying Redbull.
            That wont be 14 engines generating data, but a pile to scratch heads over.
            We haven’t even added a potential Marko storming off 7 times, and then the vicious press conferences, Redbull style.

  19. I just cannot understand why this crisis developed. Honda are a company that should understand motor racing, and McLaren are a company that should understand motor racing, and yet together they don’t seem to be able to understand it. This isn’t a crisis that suddenly developed since Christmas, it is a crisis that has been smoldering away for at least two years. There was plenty of time to throw water on the embers of unmotivation, but no, no water, instead it seems the embers were to be fanned by the poor performance of the Honda engine.
    Really, it is hard to write about McLaren-Honda without repeating metaphors used the last time I wrote. Where are the Honda Accountants who want to know what their $100M is being spent on? Where are the Honda engineers who won’t accept last as a worthwhile place? Where are the Honda chemists who want to know why the engine isn’t producing the power they calculated it should? Where is the Honda Board of Directors approval of an F1 engine that isn’t F1 capable? None are to be seen, or at least that seems to be the case.

    1. agreed, didn’t McLaren also insist that Honda worked with their size zero concept? Maybe they should have looked at copying/ matching Mercedes in the first instance, then looked to innovate over time. 3 wasted years so far.

      1. reply was to Lee

    2. “Honda are a company that should understand motor racing…” is perhaps secondary to their size as an automotive manufacturer. Worldwide (limiting this to F1 engines) Fiat/Ferrari are in 7th place, just ahead of Honda in 8th; Renault trail in 10th place and Mercedes in 14th.
      The top players, Toyota, VW, Hyundai, etc., obviously see no benefit from F1. It is astounding that Honda made a major investment to return to F1, and to all extents and purposes have, so far, blown it. Honda must have (or at least can afford to buy) some of the smartest design and production engineers in the world.
      But we — the public, the F1 fans — do not know where this lack of reliability, let alone power, comes from. We can read about packaging, electronics, whatever, but we’re in the dark. Therefore speculation on the blame-game McLaren/Honda is a dead-end, the technical and commercial management of both companies must be tearing their hair out, and until a meaningful statement eventually comes out (and it will), we can only wonder at why Honda are putting a multi-billion dollar reputation at serious risk.

    1. That is from last year, so it is understandable

      It would be fun though if the discount was equivalent to the efficiency of the engine

      Today we are 50% down on power, go to our shop and have a 50% discount on everything Honda related

  20. Mr Honda: Mr Brown … we seem to have a problem.
    Mr Brown: I told you that. I said your engine would make Honda loose face, but you didn’t agree.
    Mr Honda: No, that isn’t the problem, the problem is fans seem to have consigned us to “so close to last as it doesn’t matter” this season.
    Mr Brown: So prove them wrong! Give us an engine as powerful and reliable as the Mercedes engine and they will feel ashamed for doubting you.

    1. Fukobayashi (@offdutyrockstar)
      17th March 2017, 9:50

      Never go into scriptwriting bro.

      1. Nor into motivational speakers! :)

    2. Woud have to agree with Fudge Kobayashi on that one

  21. The guy who ditched his wife and newborn baby, has problems understanding why Rosberg would prioritize his wife and his newborn baby over a sporting career. Why am I not surprised? He won the title, which was his dream and every driver’s one and only goal. Anything beyond that is completely inexcusable if it means forcing your family to take a back seat to your ego again. They sure don’t need money.

    1. Good post. I agree!

    2. The Blade Runner (@)
      17th March 2017, 15:11

      100% right!

      The fact that Horner doesn’t understand Rosberg’s decision says more about him than it does about Nico.

      1. Yes, and Nico knew very well that with 2016 panning out the way it did, it was his one and only chance to win the title. To hit another season, where Lewis would be unlucky/failing or not be able to compete, would be very unlikely. Nico made a good choice for himselves and his family.

  22. If McLaren have approached Mercedes then that’s the end of the McLaren-Honda relationship!
    Honda wont put up with that and if the out clause is correct maybe they are both grabbing for it.

    To quote the worlds best ever band GNR “How come I feel like I am beating a dead horse!”

    I am like so many that want to see McLaren competitive again, this is not good to see them at the back.

    I am waiting for the cries to “Bring Back Ron”!!!……………………. , didn’t hear to many! (Ok just joking here- I think Ron is great :)

  23. I don’t believe the BBC article on McLaren. Its filled with inaccuracies, unnamed sources and assumptions. Speculative nonsense

    1. @emu55 I agree. This is exactly what we now call “Fake news”.

      Andrew Benson is absolutely appalling. Not sure why the BBC still have F1 in their sport section, Moto GP news disappeared the instant they lost the coverage rights for that.

  24. I don’t believe that the Honda PU will be that bad this season – they will recover fast. But right from the outset I was skeptical towards the Honda project. Honda bailed out of F1 after several lousy seasons, handing over their worksteam to Brawn and he made a miracle with it next season, because the development of the Brawn car got good funding and backing from Honda – but as a Team, the split between a distant Honda group developing the drivetrain in Japan, didn’t work in those days, and it still don’t work. I don’t think it will ever come to work again. For some reason the days of McLaren-Honda from the 80ties are totally lost. It will not come back and McLaren is in a similar situation as BMW was with Williams, hence the shift to Sauber. Sadly BMW withdrew from F1 and the prospect of them coming back is slim.

  25. Surely though McLaren must have some rights to exit the Honda contract early, if Honda have repeatedly failed to provide a power unit that is fit for purpose?

  26. Can’t say I follow the logic of the cotd. That in the past three years none of the current Mercedes customers have won races says nothing about McLaren’s potential… granted, that potential looks woeful at the moment, but I don’t see how the conclusion follows that they would at best match Williams and/or Force India, especially since it’s difficult to compare the two: one underachieving for years, one pretty much where you might expect a smaller, quality team.

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