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?