The Daily Mail have reported that McLaren have decided to divorce Honda to return to Mercedes power in 2018, with the team nearing a deal with Mercedes that’ll cost €90 million.
McLaren enjoyed major success in their first stint with the Japanese Manufacturer between 1988-1992. They won four constructors championships in a row, taking 44 wins from a total of 80 races. Prost won one world championship with the team during this period, while Senna won three.
By stark contrast, the recent partnership has been a massive failure for the team. In the 47-race partnership, a McLaren has failed to finish 31 times, and have had four occasions where the car has failed to start. It also has received a total grid drop of 468 places in 47 races. That rounds to having 10 place grid penalties every race.
The Honda engine has also been underpowered. Despite having some of the best drivers in Formula One, McLaren have only scored 103 points, and haven’t scored a single podium, since 2015. Fernando Alonso has had many complaints about the Honda power. At Suzuka 2015, Alonso called his Honda power unit a “GP2 engine”.
It finally looks like that the McLaren-Honda partnership is coming to quite a messy end. Alonso recently said that unless McLaren win by September, he will leave the team. Key members of the team have also been extremely critical of Honda. Eric Bouiller said the following;
“After so much toil and hearache, even that single point would have felt like a victory. And then came yet another gut-wrenching failure.”
“It’s difficult to find the right words to express our disappointment, our frustration and, yes, our sadness. So I’ll say only this: it’s simply, and absolutely, not good enough,”
During the hybrid era, Mercedes have had the best engine package, winning 55 of the 66 races since 2014. McLaren have also enjoyed much success with Mercedes power in the past. They won their most recent constructors championship with Mercedes in 1998. However, the question remains if McLaren would return to winning ways with Mercedes power.
Despite having the Mercedes package in 2014, McLaren still only finished the championship fifth, picking up two podiums at the start of the season. They have also said in the past that teams can’t win as a customer anymore. A move away from Honda would mean they would lose their status as a works team.
Another issue the team could face is that the Honda deal has a net worth of $100 million to the team. Honda currently provide free engines, and pay a sponsor contribution and for half of the drivers wages. McLaren have struggled to attract many sponsors since their split with Vodafone in 2013. Would the team be able to compete financially compared to their rivals?
Do you think McLaren can return to the top with Mercedes power? Or should they keep their works team status with Honda?