F1 bosses want to keep Honda in the sport even if McLaren ditches them for Renault

Formula 1 in numbersIBTimes UK

Formula 1 executives are hoping to keep Honda in the sport even if McLaren were to walk away from the Japanese giant and sign a deal with Renault instead.

The Woking-based team has been beset by technical issues over the last two seasons, with the Honda engines proving extremely fragile and unreliable.

In June, executive director Zak Brown admitted patience was wearing thin within the team and hinted McLaren could end its partnership with the Japanese giant, which reportedly contributes as much as $100m to the team's budget.

Advertisement

Fernando Alonso and teammate and Stoffel Vandoorne both failed to complete the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday (3 September), the third time this season that McLaren has been forced to retire both cars from a race.

And the British team, which has not won a race since 2012 and has not finished on the podium since the opening race of the 2014 season, is now seemingly intent on speeding up its divorce from Honda, opening negotiations with Renault over a possible deal that would begin next year.

Over the weekend, Brown met Renault F1's managing director Cyril Abiteboul and Alain Prost, who acts as adviser for the French team. Separately, however, Jean Todt, the president of motorsports governing body FIA, held meetings with both F1 chairman Chase Carey and Honda's Masashi Yamamoto in a bid to ensure the Japanese giant has a future in the sport.

Once a F1 powerhouse, Honda has struggled badly since returning to the sport in 2015 and the hope of reviving one of the greatest ever partnerships in the history of the sport - 44 of Honda's 69 F1 wins as engine supplier came with McLaren between 1988 and 1992 - never got off the ground.

Should McLaren and Renault reach an agreement, Honda could supply its engines to Toro Rosso, as Renault has stated it would work with McLaren only if they dropped the Italian team as they can not provide engines to more than three teams - Renault, Red Bull and Toro Rosso currently all run Renault engines - for fear of reliability issues.

"We don't want to lose Honda," Sean Bratches, F1 commercial chief, told Autosport. "Honda is a long and valued partner of F1.

"We're trying to do everything we can to encourage the respective parties to keep them in the sport and grow because we think there's a huge opportunity going forward for everyone involved in F1.

Advertisement

"We need everybody in this sport to have a good business."

Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director and a former team principal for Renault, admitted the situation was complicated by the need of keeping a big name such as Honda in the sport.

"It is complicated because you want to do the best for F1 as well, it is not only for McLaren," he said.

"Whatever will happen, and it is a good collaborative work with all the parties in the paddock, we all try to make the best of the situation."

© Copyright 2017 IBTimes Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.