Silly season is usually all about where various drivers are going to end up, but this year the speculation over which engines McLaren will have in 2018 is as exciting as any potential driver move.
The teams relationship with Honda has weakened this year as the performance, reliability and efficiency of the power units barely seems to have improved at all after almost three seasons. At one point there was talk that McLaren could switch engines mid-season and although that now seems unlikely, there’s a real possibility that it could have a new engine supplier for the 2018 season.
Or at least, there was a possibility.
Recent comments to Sky Sports by Zak Brown seem to indicate that the chance of McLaren having a Mercedes or Ferrari engine deal for 2018 is minimal because they don’t want to help the Woking squad become a competitive team again. Brown said:
“We’re a big team that knows how to win races and championships so I think most of the teams, while it’s a shame to see where we are, they like us where we are. They don’t want to get us too close to them which is understandable.”
He also made some positive comments about Honda, which may suggest the team is going to continue with the project in 2018 after all.
“We’ve spoken with Honda about a variety of different scenarios. We ultimately think that Honda can get the job done, they have in the past. We need to make sure the development comes at a faster pace. We’re starting to work on our 2018 car now and you can only go so far before you need to know the architecture of what you’re doing so I think around the summer time, which obviously isn’t far away, we need to finalise what we’re doing with Honda moving forward.
It seems a decision is close to being made, which is good news for Fernando Alonso. Recently he urged the team to hurry up and choose, probably so that he can get on with making a decision on whether he wants to stay or leave next year. Brown added:
“We can’t continue to be uncompetitive – that’s not what McLaren race for. It’s been three years, so we need to see some drastic power adjustments or some different ways to get there. We, like Fernando, want to be winning races and being on the podium and in the current state we can’t do that – so some things need to change.”
But whilst Fernando has got the option to see if the grass truly is greener with another team, it looks like McLaren could well be stuck trying to make the partnership with Honda work after all.