After months of speculation, McLaren have confirmed their divorce from a troubled relationship with Honda, securing a contract with Renault until the end of the 2020 season.
It is believed the decision was made on mutual terms, with both Honda and McLaren understanding that the partnership had not worked as first intended, yielding no wins, no podiums and just 114 points in nearly three tumultuous seasons, with a best finish of 6th place in the Constructors’ Championship in 2016.
The “best course of action”
In an official statement issued by McLaren after a promising Free Practice 1 for the team, Honda’s President & Representative Director, Takahiro Hachigo confirmed that Honda will stay in the series, and called the split “unfortunate”.
“We made the decision with a belief that this is the best course of action for each other’s future,” Hachigo noted.
“Honda will continue the fight together with McLaren all the way to the end of the 2017 season, and then continue its F1 racing activities in 2018 and beyond.”
Furthermore, Hachigo thanked McLaren’s large fanbase for their support through “the joys and disappointments”.
McLaren’s Executive Director, Zak Brown mirrored Hachigo’s thoughts that the timing was correct for both parties, but thanked Honda for their involvement in a project that was reportedly ushered in a year too soon.
“[Honda] are proven winners and innovators. For a combination of reasons our partnership has not flourished as any of us would have wished,” Brown stated before adding.
“The time has come to move ahead in different directions. As fellow racers, we hope to see the great name of Honda get back to the top – our sport is better for their involvement.”
Brown also stated that the timing of the deal allows McLaren “the stability we need to move ahead with our chassis and technical programme for 2018 without any further hesitation.”
Alonso set to stay
No stranger to Renault powered machinery, Fernando Alonso looks almost certain to stay with McLaren for 2018 alongside Stoffel Vandoorne after more questions about the Spaniard’s future swirled around this year, fuelled by his eye-catching switch to the Indy 500 over this year’s Monaco Grand Prix in May.
It has been confirmed that Honda will now power Toro Rosso next year, with senior team Red Bull allegedly set to follow from 2019 onwards.