The decision is slowly approaching. Does McLaren stay with Honda or do you switch back to the former partner Mercedes? Officially, the Woking team still has a contract with the Japanese, but apparently they have been working for a long time to get out of this “possibly with success.
We don’t have a date yet, but it’s only a matter of weeks,” Eric Boullier explains to “Sky Sports”, when it is referred to a decision in the engine question.
The fact is that a decision must be taken as quickly as possible. The work on the car for 2018 has already begun, and the McLaren designers need to know as soon as possible which engine will hit the rear in the coming year. Besides Honda, Mercedes is considered the most promising option. But Niki Lauda, CEO of the Mercedes team, recalls at “Sky”: “McLaren has a Honda contract.”
Although the Austrian also did not miss that McLaren apparently wants to get rid of the Japanese engines.” But that doesn’t mean that a Mercedes engine is going to get in there for a long time,”says Lauda, who also clarifies,”No one asked.”However, the 68-year-old should only mean That there has not yet been an official request from Woking to Mercedes.
Mercedes does not want to drive Honda out
That would not be possible as long as McLaren still has a valid contract with Honda. It is more than likely, however, that people have already spoken informally behind closed doors about revitalising the old partnership. Finally, McLaren boss Zak Brown himself already emphasized that there was “a plan B and a plan C” for 2018, even though Mercedes was never officially mentioned.
Basically, the silver arrows would already be ready to start a third engine customer next year, next to its own workshop team. Toto Wolff himself recently confirmed this. This would not be a problem for Mercedes, as between 2014 and 2016 three customer teams were regularly supplied in the hybrid era. 2017 is just Williams and Force India.
However, you can’t wait forever for the decision there either. McLaren needs to know which engine will be in the car with them, “but so do we,” explains Wolff, adding that one wants clarity by September or October. However, the initiative should clearly come from Woking. Mercedes himself does not want to interfere, but we will talk to McLaren if the team knocks.
2018 Mercedes and 2019 again Honda?
Last, by the way, a new scenario was put in the room: a temporary separation of McLaren and Honda. “Last but not least.” On paper, this is a good strategy,”explains Eric Boullier and adds:”If you can have another engine until Honda is competitive, why not? This is one of the scenarios we have been thinking about.”In this case, the Japanese 2018 would only provide clean new customers.
It is unclear, however, whether the engine manufacturers involved would enter into such a deal –especially since Mercedes makes it clear that you do not want to step on Honda’s feet under any circumstances.” The most important thing is that Honda performs and stays in the sport,”Toto Wolff clarifies and adds with a wink of an eye:”If you are seen as a new bride, then first you should be through the divorce before you go to bed.”
Also Jean Todt explains:”It is a privilege for me that Honda is in formula 1. They are fantastic.”The FIA president also wants the Japanese,”one of the top manufacturers in the world”, to keep the sport. And Niki Lauda recalls with regard to the Mercedes rumors: “We had the same discussion once with Red Bull. They stayed with Renault and the matter was settled…”