McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes that his team will reap the rewards from Red Bull's split with Renault. Red Bull will part ways with Renault next season, bringing an end to its long-standing relationship.
The energy drink outfit will take on Honda power units after the Japanese squad spent the 2018 campaign as Toro Rosso's engine supplier. Following its satisfaction with Honda's progress since 2017, Red Bull announced in June that Honda would join up with the senior squad in 2019.
McLaren ran Honda engines from 2015 to 2017, in a failed partnership that hoped to emulate the success of McLaren-Honda in the late '90s. It picked up a deal with Renault for 2018, but still found itself competing towards the back of the field.
And Brown thinks that McLaren will receive a boost, as Renault now has one less team to focus on: “I think we’ll benefit from having two teams on the grid next year, so [Renault] will be focused on ourselves and themselves, and excited to have a long term future with them.”
“I think we’re now on the road to recovery as I tell the men and women at McLaren, it’s going to feel good before it looks good. Development is going well, teamwork, collaboration, communication, responsibilities, all those things that we fell short of are now going well.
“But until the race car hits the track, that’s the ultimate measurement and that’s when everyone will be able to visibly see what type of improvement over the winter. I certainly think this year is a low spot, and this era is a low spot, in McLaren history and working hard to be on the road to recovery now. But it takes some time.”
Renault has failed to produce an engine that matches Mercedes, and in recent seasons, Ferrari in terms of both pace and reliability. However, Brown claims that things are looking encouraging for the French manufacturer for 2019.
"We have a very good relationship with Renault,” he said. “I got my report on how next year’s power unit is coming along, and it’s very encouraging. They’ve given us a reliable engine this year and so it’s going well. We’re happy with the decision that we’ve made, we’re very happy with Renault.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing