#MotorsportTribune: McLaren has made their decision...
Just earlier today, McLaren has made their decision on their 2018 engine supplier. After a horrid winter testings at Barcelona and problems still yet to be completely fixed, McLaren has decided to part ways with Honda after the 2017 season.
This will mark the end of the three year relationship of the Woking team with their Japanese supplier. McLaren and Honda is one of the most famous partnership in the history in Formula One from 1988 to 1992 when Honda helped McLaren to 4 Driver’s World Titles (3 for Senna and 1 for Prost), with 4 Constructor’s Titles from 1988 to 1991, cementing their legacy in the books.
But their return partnership has been an utter failure. 2015 , the team was a laughing stock on the grid with multiple engine failures and at Suzuka that year Fernando Alonso complained on the radio that the engine just basically the same like a GP2 engine. 2016 brought up some hopes as the team improved to sixth in the constructors and Alonso ended the year in 10th in the driver’s championship.
With the 2017 rule changes, Honda decided to change the engine design closely to Mercedes, sounds good on paper. Unfortunately they still stick with the “Size Zero” concept which caused the engine the overheat massively and vibrations was indicated during the Barcelona tests with the team completed the least amount of laps of all teams.
Pressures are mounting on Zak Brown and Eric Boullier to change the situation. With rumors of the tension between the team and Honda has reached its climax and McLaren is looking for a new engine suppliers. Most prominently, McLaren made contacts with Mercedes to supply them their engines for 2018 with Boullier said McLaren can win with Mercedes engine.
Unfortunately, talks between them stalled but out of nowhere McLaren was able to find a new engine supplier: Audi.
YES, Audi is coming to Formula One next year. Unknown to the public, Audi was focusing on their Formula One engine’s program since 2013. Although most believed that the reason Audi pulled out of WEC was because of the Dieselgate scandal but that was revealed as a cover up for Audi to bail out of WEC to join Formula One.
Neither McLaren or Audi confirmed about the partnership but internal sources from both McLaren and Audi has confirmed of their involvement. But there are speculations that McLaren and Audi will make an official announcement at the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai next weekend.
It was indicated by the press around two days ago that Audi will send to of its engine consultant to Paris for an engine meeting for the rules of 2022 with strong links between them and Red Bull might be joining forces soon.
No words yet about the engine Audi will be supplying McLaren but it’s indicated to be followed closely on the Audi 4 liter Turbo Diesel V6 they previously used on the Audi R18 in the WEC. Most likely will be the engine that was supposed to be on this year R18 combining with their research from 2013. The hybrid system will be provided by McLaren themselves while the engine will be developed by a team from Ingolstadt.
Also with the switch, news reported that Alonso might be leaving McLaren after this season to race in the WEC. Speculations has been raised but two names shine out, Jenson Button and McLaren junior Nyck de Vries.
While Button is taking a sabbatical year from Formula One, he said that his ambition to race in Formula One is no more and wished to race in other area such as endurance GT3 or rallycross. Button has been testing with Olsberg MSE Honda Civic in the America’s Global Rallycross Championship for some wild card events this year and as a guest driver in the OMSE prepared Ford Fiesta RX at Lydden Hill for the World RX Championship later this year.
Young Dutchman Nyck de Vries has been a part of McLaren’s Young Drivers Program for 7 years. He is most known for two episodes on McLaren hit show ‘Tooned’ back in 2012. He will be racing in Formula 2 this year for Rapax, early testings see him putting up good laps and in the top 5 most of the time. Nyck also has close links with Audi after testings their DTM machinery last year when he was close to get to boot out of the program. So, we might have two Dutchman racing next year in Formula One
So this left the question, where will Honda go? News has it that Honda and Mercedes are having talks to supply their engine to Sauber for the next season, so this might not be the end for Honda. They might end up in Hinwill but it will be a new start for them, to clean up their old mess and going to the future with a new partnership. A deal with Honda can see them also locked in one of their driver for next year, Honda’s Nobuharu Matsushita.
But if Mercedes still has a high chance of getting a deal as well because of their links with Pascal Wehrlein who is currently driving for Sauber after both the Swiss outfit and Mercedes reached a deal to put him in after the demise of Manor Racing.
So anything can happen, Sauber has until May 6 to confirm their plans for 2018, so anything can happen. With that McLaren and Audi might be an interesting partnership and we will have to look until 2018 to see how it pays off for them.
A motorsport blog by Robert Nguyen
April 1st, 2017
HAPPY APRIL’S FOOLS!!!