Brown has ‘serious concerns’ over Honda progress after upgrade delay


McLaren will not wait forever for Honda to come good in Formula 1, according to Zak Brown - Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Zak Brown fears that Honda is currently finding it difficult to improve their engine, especially when the planned Canadian Grand Prix upgrade has been shelved at the last minute.

The Executive Director of the McLaren Technology Group believes Honda are ‘lost’, with Brown not sure just when the promised update will arrive, meaning this weekend’s race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is likely to be another struggle for the McLaren Formula 1 Team.

The current specification Honda engine has been struggling for both reliability and performance this season, with Stoffel Vandoorne having taken an engine penalty as early as round four in Russia, and rumours were rife that McLaren were thinking of a return to Mercedes power in 2018, but even though that will not be the case, Brown says they cannot wait forever for Honda to come good.

“Honda’s working very hard but they seem a bit lost,” said Brown to Reuters. “We were only told recently that we wouldn’t have the upgrade coming (for Montreal)… and we don’t have a definitive timeline, which is concerning because the pain is great and we can’t sit around forever.

“We were eagerly awaiting this upgrade as were our drivers and it’s a big disappointment that it’s not coming. It’s not lack of effort, but they are struggling to get it to come together.

“The executive committee have now given us our marching orders. We’re not going to go into another year like this, in hope.

“I don’t want to get into what our options are. Our preference is to win the world championship with Honda. But at some point you need to make a decision as to whether that’s achievable. And we have serious concerns.

“Missing upgrades, and upgrades not delivering to the level we were told they were going to, you can only take that so long. And we’re near our limit.”

Brown also admits that the on-track problems are having a financial impact on McLaren, with the end-of-season payouts from Formula One Management less as they fall down the order, while sponsors are distancing themselves from the team.

“When you actually look at the impact of loss of FOM (Formula One payments) money and loss of sponsorship, it starts to diminish the commercial benefits of what Honda brings to the table,” added Brown.

“And when you start to net it out, it doesn’t have quite the commercial benefit it might appear from the outside.”