Honda chief Yamamoto says McLaren find it hard adapting to change

Masashi Yamamoto has spoken about McLaren's flaws. | Photo: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Just days after their split from McLaren was confirmed, Honda’s chief motorsport director Masashi Yamamoto has claimed that the limping Woking outfit are too systematic and don’t adapt to change efficiently.

In an interview conducted in the wake of yesterday’s Singapore Grand Prix – a race that saw Stoffel Vandoorne finish inside the points – Yamamoto criticised the team’s attitude, whilst praising new customers Toro Rosso, hinting that they can offer more adaptability.

“Working with McLaren, I’ve realised that they are a very big company which is very systematic,” Yamamoto told the official Honda Racing website.

“It’s obviously very strong because of that but at the same time they can find it hard to adapt to change.”

“Compare that to Toro Rosso, it is a company that is growing. It is very important for us to work in partnership together, heading towards the same goal.”

“Take this for an example: If we compare both teams with different cuisines, let’s say McLaren is a very sophisticated French cuisine, that’s the way it is. Then Toro Rosso is more like a countryside, homemade delicious stew where you can add new ingredients. We’re excited to do that.”

It was believed that Honda were rushed into their return into Formula 1 a year early by McLaren, with the resulting three seasons causing irreparable damage between the two parties, the glory days of the 20th century far from replicated, with star driver Fernando Alonso delivering several public condemnations of the Japanese brand.

Yamamoto: “We want to show Honda’s potential”

As McLaren look to start afresh with Renault for the first time in their long history, Yamamoto is looking towards evolution, not revolution.

“The regulations go on until 2020 so we still have three years and we want to show our improvements in the technology. We want to show Honda’s potential.”

Yamamoto pinpointed the importance of this to Honda’s name, wanting to show the world their ability to progress and succeed. These comments come in the wake of speculation that Toro Rosso’s parent team Red Bull may be one of their customers from 2019, potentially bringing Honda back towards the front of the grid.

Red Bull’s future is unknown. | Photo: Octane Photographic Ltd.

It was well known that communication was lacking with McLaren and Honda, however Yamamoto is optimistic that that won’t be a problem with Toro Rosso.

“First, [Toro Rosso team principal] Mr. Tost knows a lot about Japan. He understands the culture and it’s a good communication that we have,” he noted, before adding: “We have seen that they also have a young factory and are growing, which for Honda is very important because we can work with the same mentality and have the same approach. It is a new start with a team with a similar mindset to move forwards together.”

Good communication needed between Honda and McLaren

Deteriorated relationship aside, Yamamoto was keen to affirm Honda’s commitment to McLaren for the rest of the 2017 season.

“Toro Rosso and Honda will start working together immediately and for the coming year,” he said.

“However, before that we have the rest of the 2017 season to complete with McLaren, so a good communication between us is still very important, as well as a good performance in the remaining races.”



  • D.Duck

    [quote] “It was believed that Honda were rushed into their return into Formula 1 a year early by McLaren,” [unquote] Are we to assume this was the fault of Ron Dennis “forcing” Honda to supply their power unit 1 year too soon? If he is alluding to the scenario that Dennis is to blame, then he should say so!!! After the disastrous start in testing and the first races of 2015, I seem to recall Honda and McLaren telling us that their power unit was still being developed, and that the rest of the season was going to be “test sessions” at every race and that the performance and reliability would improve during the season. McLaren improved the chassis, but the Honda engine continued to be thirsty, underpowered and unreliable! Communication between Honda and McLaren has nothing to do with Hondas failure to produce an even mildy reliable power unit….that is purely down to Honda producing a unit that should be able to run in any other teams chassis with some semblance of reliability first and gains in power over the rest of the season. McLaren got neither…..only more unreliability and a massive power deficit to the rest!!! Regardless of who understands Japanese culture, whether its Franz Tost or Fernando Alonso or Uncle Tom Cobberley and all, Hondas 3 years of failure to produce sufficient power and reliability is 100% down to them!!!

  • facesforever

    Can it not be that the leaving of Ron Dennis madeMclaren a bit steerless. Zak Brown, I’m sure he’s got many qualitys, is not Ron Dennis who was a perfectionist in every way possible. I read that some scenes in the hospitality rooms at McLaren are totaly different from the days of Dennis who did not allow half eaten plates of food standing in tables whicch today nobady cares about. (sourses some press articles) I know, plates of food are no engines but a different culture has surely stepped in at McLaren and the communication with Honda where for from optimal, just like RBR did with Renault. As a team you talk things out before going to the press. The end of the collaboration was inevitable but do you realy think Honda will not get it right? remember this engine is only about ten month’s running, totaly other than that of 2015-’16. And they improved massively if you take in account that they had some races they couldn’t even start at and today they arefighting with Force India and Williams. I see them getting only better and TR have done a good deal, they now have a massive Honda budget and an exclusive engine for one year.
    Do not misunderstand me, you have a valid point but F 1 isa rapidly changing beast. take that from a 40+ year Ferrari fanclud member.