McLaren and Honda have confirmed that they will divorce at the end of the season ending the three year partnership between the two outfits with Renault confirmed to supply McLaren with their engines from next year. It has been a tumultuous partnership between the once dominant partnership from the 1980s when they supplied the team in one of the most dominant efforts ever seen in Formula 1.
It had been the idea at the beginning of the partnership that the only way they could reascend to the top of the sport was by being a works team, with Mercedes no longer an option they felt for competing for championships and the only way forward was with Honda.
But with three years of the team not moving forward and in fact moving backwards at the beginning of the year the divorce has been long coming with Mclaren and especially Fernando Alonso becoming frustrated at the lack of any real sign of improvement from Honda and are now willing to accept Renault even though the likelihood is they will only be capable of similar performance to the Red Bull of the hybrid era.
Zak Brown's reaction to the news, which has surely been in the work for some time was this: "Today’s announcement gives us the stability we need to move ahead with our chassis and technical programme for 2018 without any further hesitation. 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 reaction from Renault sports president, Jerome stoll was equally positive, saying this on the new deal: “This is a strategic decision for Renault Sport Racing. It is the first time that Renault will work with McLaren and we are proud to have reached an agreement with an organisation that has such a rich Formula 1 history. 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.”
Takahiro Hachigo, president and representative director of Honda seemed rueful on the split saying: "It is unfortunate that we must part ways with Honda before fulfilling our ambitions, however, we made the decision with a belief that the decision is the best course of action for each other's future.
"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, then continue it's F1 racing activities in 2018 and beyond."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing