MARINA BAY, Singapore – After three years, McLaren announced Thursday that the team will end its partnership with Honda at the end of the season.
The team sits ninth in the Constructors’ Championship with 11 points. McLaren Group Executive Chairman and Executive Committee principal Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa said the team and Honda feel that it is time to pursue other opportunities, according to the Formula 1 website.
“Honda is a great company which, like McLaren, is in Formula 1 to win,” Al Khalifa said. “”Although our partnership has not produced the desired success, that does not diminish the great history our two companies have enjoyed together, nor our continued efforts to achieve success in Formula 1. At this point in time, it is in the best interests of both companies that we pursue our racing ambitions separately.”
McLaren will move to Renault power for 2018, a move McLaren Technology Group Executive Director Zak Brown said should allow them to be in the hunt for victories.
“Today’s announcement gives us the stability we need to move ahead with our chassis and technical program for 2018 without any further hesitation,” Brown said. “As an organization, McLaren has always worked extremely hard to form lasting partnerships with its technical suppliers. We’re convinced that we can bring real value to Renault Sport Racing as we work alongside it to develop this current power unit into a regular race winner.”
Honda will not be withdrawing from Formula One, as the engine supplier has inked a multi-year deal with Toro Rosso, the team announced Thursday.
President and Representative Director of Honda Takahiro Hachigo said the company was looking forward to the new partnership with the Red Bull-sponsored team.
“We are excited to start this new chapter in our Formula 1 journey,” Hachigo said. “I would like to express our appreciation to Liberty Media and the FIA for their cooperation toward the realization of this partnership. “Honda and Toro Rosso will work as one team to strive for progress and a successful future together. We appreciate the support of our fans as we begin this challenge.”
The switch to a new power supplier has put Toro Rosso on the back foot in terms of designing its 2018 challenger, but Technical Director James Key said the team can work around the change.
“It will be a question of adaption of our plans rather than a wholesale change and we are in the process of re-planning our design and production activities in conjunction with Honda to ensure that we both hit all our important deadlines,” Key said. “Toro Rosso has faced many difficult tasks with timing in the past and has the flexibility to deal with it. We will be working hard not to only re-design the PU installation but also ensure that this has minimal or no effect on the ongoing development work for 2018 – that is our current target.
“The architecture of the car will change in line with the PU requirements and our chassis and gearbox designs are currently under review to be adapted accordingly, similarly we will be working closely with Honda on the performance aspects of the PU installation that the chassis will influence to ensure we maximize the potential of the package as a whole from the outset.”
The announcements from McLaren and Toro Rosso come as Formula One Chairman and CEO Chase Carey said he was glad all 10 teams have power suppliers for 2018.
“We are pleased that the teams and constructors involved in these intensive and complex discussions have reached an agreement satisfactory to all concerned,” commented Carey said. “We had put ourselves at the disposal of the various parties to try and facilitate the best possible outcome for everyone.”
“It is particularly important that Honda, one of the main manufacturers in the motor industry and a company that has played an important role in the history of motorsport, will still be in Formula 1 for years to come. We’re all looking forward to working together with all the teams and manufacturers to make our sport more exciting and spectacular for the fans all over the world.”