Zak Brown: Forced to make a ‘business decision’ and split from Honda

McLaren boss Zak Brown has admitted that the cost of staying on with Honda is now outweighed by the money they bring to the team.

The rhetoric coming from both Alonso and McLaren seem to point toward the decision to split has been finalised. Indeed the seeds of that decision started as far back as winter testing when TJ13 broke the paddock rumour story suggesting McLaren had already started planning the divorce off the back of poor engine performance and reliability. Rather than making the transition to another partner immediately, most likely Mercedes at the time, a raft of concessions including a run at the Indy500 for Alonso along with giving Honda one last chance to improve was the favoured route for 2017.

All of this was of course posturing for the inevitable reality that McLaren had made their plans several months ago to move away from Honda. The deal with Sauber to take on Honda engines in January this year was but the first step.

“I think it just becomes a business decision,” reveals Brown “As nice as the Honda contract is and I’m sure there’s lots of teams here that would love to have the contractual relationship, at the end of the day you start losing a lot of money in prize money which is all easily documented. We lost sponsor partners to other teams.”

“You’ve got two different types of sponsor losses, you have those that leave the sport, sometimes you don’t know if that was you or the sport or circumstances, but when someone leaves a team to go to another team what that means is they are happy with the sport, they’re not happy with the team.

“We’ve had more of those in the last couple of years than we’ve probably had – and maybe not statistically – in the last decade.

“So when you start adding that up it starts to offset the positive element of the contractual relationship with Honda where we are getting those revenues we’re depositing, there’s not outgoing, obviously that’s not the case with a lot of the teams here.”

Whether the move makes any real change to where Alonso will go for 2018 is anyone’s guess after he hinted that having a Mercedes Power Unit for 2018 “WILL NOT CHANGE MY DECISION

TJ13 technical analyst Joao suggested in March that Renault might actually be the perfect fit for McLaren should Honda become surplus to requirement.

What engine partner do you think McLaren would be best suited with?

14 responses to “Zak Brown: Forced to make a ‘business decision’ and split from Honda

  1. Is the decision made, or is it a final attempt to kick Honda in the right direction? “Do not throw away your old shoes before you got new ones”: A lesson well learned after the Red Bull/Renault affair. If they are willing to terminate the contract with Honda, then they must have a major sponsor ready to sign.

    That Alonso is important for the team: clear. But to construct your team around a driver… As a team I would want to build around my own strengths, and not around someone else’s.

    If McLaren signs another supplier, I would estimate it to be Mercedes. And if I was Williams, I would try to pick up where McLaren left. Honda will find an answer to most problems: they have a long tradition of F1 (Maybe I should feel the same about Sauber, but I simply can’t forgive them the Giedo van der Garde contract fcuk up)

    2021: McLaren returns to Honda?

    • I suppose it’s also possible that McLaren are worried that Honda will cut and run themselves, as indeed they did once before when they thought any benefits of being in F1 were now being vastly outweighed by the costs, embarrassment and the damage to their brand.

  2. What is interesting is that the M-B deal seems to have been done by Mansour Ojjeh and not Zak “cut me an I bleed McLaren” Brown. Toro Rosso with Honda next year and if that works out with Red Bull in 2019?

    • You can bet your bottom dollar that there is a faint trail of sticky energy drink droplets leading to the back door of Honda HQ – it’s appearance would have coincided with rumours of McLaren pulling the pin.

      Honda have it spectacularly wrong now but they are far from mugs. If RBR see and hear the right things they could well be tempted. Renault don’t seem up to the task of closing the gap and F1 is yet to mention the word “parity” so changing horses is conceivable for a team so loudly intent on success.

      It’s a big call though.

      • Yh, stretching / ignoring some details more than a bit…

        I just thought that the change from TAG to Honda engines worked pretty well for the last mob who did it.

        History doesn’t repeat, but it certainly rhymes 🙂

    • They don’t make the engines for their road cars. They would have to buy it. So why not buy it from Mercedes with proven experience instead of Cosworth who have yet to fully integrate an ICE with a regenerating and spun up turbo as well als all the other electric bits. You think McLarens has a couple of to build a factory and do all the research from scratch in 7-8 months time?

  3. Oh, and props where they’re due – Steve’s story here the other day closed with a speculative paragraph about McLaren possibly weighing up the short and long term financial pros & cons of the Honda deal. Zak Brown brought Steve’s thought bubble to reality with this interview. 🙂

  4. I see your skillz in writing misleading headlines is still alive and kicking.

    Seriously guys, your articles are _fine_ and I find them often quite comprehensive and /or entertaining. You don’t need to do that silly SCOOPSCOOPSCOOPohnoitactuallyisnt thing – it detracts from the quality of the writing.

    Just try adding ‘probably’ or somesuch, unless there is factual confirmation you can link to. It really is as simple as re-reading your headline and asking yourself if it is actually, factually true or just highly likely (or plausible), and have the guts to amend it to reflect this.

    I’ll help you if you want to. I genuinely wish this site best – I wouldn’t be lurking around here if I didn’t. You have my contact info.


    • And, according to the sub-heading – the relationship with Honda is still financially advantageous to Mclaren… 😉

  5. –McLaren boss Zak Brown has admitted that the cost of staying on with Honda is now outweighed by the money they bring to the team.
    Judging by the rest of the article, don’t you mean “outweighing”…?

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