Helmut Marko: "Axing Honda was McLaren mistake"

  • 12 Apr 2018 13:01
  • comments 15
  • By: Rob Veenstra

Dr Helmut Marko says McLaren's 2018 car is obviously "not great". The British team went into Bahrain targeting the top three teams, but was ultimately outpaced even by the newly Honda-powered Red Bull junior team Toro Rosso.

"Mr Alonso wanted to attack Red Bull but he was behind the Toro Rosso," Marko is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. "The McLaren cannot be that great and it was not just the Honda engine that made them slow -- they are still last on the straight with the Renault," he added.

So Marko, whose Red Bull outfit is considering switching from Renault to Honda for 2019, joins those who think McLaren made a strategic error late last year. "They not only lost an engine that is getting better and better, they also gave up a lot of money," he said.

Given that they share a Renault engine, the rivalry between McLaren and Red Bull this year is obvious. McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne told France's Auto Hebdo: "No matter what engine you have in the car, you're always under pressure in formula one."

"We have clearly identified Red Bull as a reference point so it makes sense to be compared with them. But we are only at the beginning of the season, so we have to wait a bit for the arrival of new parts to see exactly where we are in the hierarchy," the Belgian added. (GMM)

Replies (15)

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  • I think it was good for them both. A divorce with a positive outcome for both parties.

    • + 0
    • Apr 12 2018 - 13:07
    • boudy

      Posts: 1,041

      @CALLE.ITW I agree. Sometimes it just doesn't work with parties involved best is to go their seperate ways like they did. However it looks like another Alonso jinx,

      • + 0
      • Apr 12 2018 - 14:46
    • Certainly does, my dear Boudy. I suppose that as a Honda fan, its prudent to thank Alonso!

      I think we can draw a decent wisdom from this divorce: one department shouldnt really try to influence the other. Honda wouldnt exactly've made a Mercedes level unit if left alone, far from it, but for a chassis developer like McLaren, they will always ask for the smallest possible engine even when that might not be conducive to getting power and reliability. Size zero was a mistake, at least it has been so far (for all we know, Honda might benefit from it in the long run...), and even in 2017, they reduced engine size further when they really should've focused on power, efficiency and reliability. Learning from each other? Of course. But only minor influence should be enforced on the other party during development.

      • + 0
      • Apr 12 2018 - 17:38
  • Madmaz

    Posts: 13

    Ouch! Kick’em when they’re down and rub salt in their wounds. Marko is certainly entertaining. I think the downfall of the McLaren-Honda relationship was they didn’t set proper expectations. McLaren seemed to think they could start winning immediately. They were very impatient. Had they have both agreed that it would take 5 years before winning races then things would have worked out. There wouldn’t have been so much pressure from fans and media. It took Mercedes about 5 years after buying Brawn GP and Renault set a 5 year target. I think decision makers at McLaren lack the leadership skills to run the team properly.

    • + 0
    • Apr 12 2018 - 13:26
    • mcbhargav

      Posts: 852

      McLaren didn't have 5 years, let alone 3. Hence, the unceremonious break up.

      • + 0
      • Apr 12 2018 - 16:25
  • RogerF1

    Posts: 349

    Check out the article on PU usage. Marko might have a different view in a few races.

    • + 0
    • Apr 12 2018 - 13:43
    • They already said it's their plan to use as many component as necessary, to be able to develop faster. Honestly, I would rather see them take a grid penalty and perform well in the race, then just sit at the back, watch other cars fly by, and finish a meaningless race

      • + 0
      • Apr 12 2018 - 14:24
    • Pauli

      Posts: 140

      Yeah. Bottom teams can easily afford taking many grid penalties when targeting a few good points scoring races for WCC points. Those important WCC points can produce important revenue increase for next couple of years.
      It is completely different in top 3 teams where they would be expected to finish well without penalties but penalty would drop them to 6th or worse unless there is retirements (like Bahrain helped Lewis). Top 3 teams have had much more issues in first two races than expected.

      • + 0
      • Apr 12 2018 - 15:08
    • Its of course not nice to take grid penalties, for sure, but we knew it would happen this year, and the teams knew it aswell. Thats what we knew we'd get when they lowered the allocations from a barely acceptable 4 into a shitty 3. Its just a question of who will do it first? So for the less reliable teams, its not necessarily a problem of how many penalties as much as when they will take them. And if STR is, as RenaultFANF1 say, ready to take as many as possible to maximize Honda's development, they've likely already planned that out.

      • + 0
      • Apr 12 2018 - 17:42
  • mbmwe36

    Posts: 533

    Damn! Marko coming in hot there! I like it!

    That being said, maybe it's time to cool their jets a little bit, three Bahrain result could be a bit of a fluke, and we still don't know about the lifespan of the different components.

    • + 0
    • Apr 12 2018 - 14:40
    • Yeah, I'll stick with what Tanabe says. Im glad Honda has taken on another more cautious head for their F1 project. But Im not sure if this is a fluke. They did honestly not look too bad in Melbourne up until the abysmal race. And seeing as they have Honda, they should've done far worse in Bahrain than they did.

      • + 0
      • Apr 12 2018 - 17:44
  • RogerF1

    Posts: 349

    I think McLaren were a lot more patient, quiet mouthed and polite than RB were when at war with Renault. Bit rich coming from Marko in my opinion. RB’s lack of an alternative was what stopped them ditching Renault sooner, could you imagine their rhetoric if they had been so near the bottom for 3 seasons like McL were with Honda? Marko has to talk up Honda to keep his option open if Renault carry out last years hint and drop them as a customer.

    • + 0
    • Apr 12 2018 - 18:44
    • Pauli

      Posts: 140

      Press just liked to write big articles from any negative comment coming from McLaren. Even if comment was a radio message. They probably constantly pushed questions about relations which McLaren wasn't smart enough to decline to answer at all.

      • + 0
      • Apr 12 2018 - 20:40
  • ENDR

    Posts: 43

    Aww, Helmut must have forgotten (or has suppressed the memories) how RB wanted to ditch Renault and threw all kinds of shit towards them after just TWO weaker seasons with V6 engines. And Renault PUs weren't even close to being as bad as Honda's and for as long.
    But the best part was how they had to beg Renault to take them back after they'd realized no one else would sell them an engine.

    • + 0
    • Apr 13 2018 - 10:43
    • 'xcept y'know, Renault being in F1 for longer (recently at least), and have been in the hybrid era longer thsn Honda, do its sorta safe to say that theor criticism, while too loudmouthed, was understandable..

      • + 0
      • Apr 13 2018 - 12:43

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