Motorsport Debrief: McLaren-Honda saga takes a twist

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Here is today's news blast to get you up-to-date on what's been making the motorsport headlines over the past 24 hours.

Hi, I hope you’re good. I'm Charles Bradley and this is the first-ever ‘debrief’ – where we take a high-speed look at the motorsport stories that have been making the headlines over the past 24 hours.

All eyes will be on the magnificent Spa-Francorchamps ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix today, where we’ll hear from all the stars of the Formula 1 show. Stay tuned to Motorsport.com for all the feedback as we speak to all the drivers and team bosses.

Ilmor key to McLaren’s Honda engine dilemma

One big topic for discussion will be McLaren, as it approaches D-day on its 2018 engine supply. That decision was made harder (or easier, depending on your view!) with Motorsport.com sources revealing that gains have been discovered by Ilmor, which has been tasked with turning the Honda unit around. 

“Although we do not deny the possibility of working with outsources [consultants], we do not disclose the details,” said a Honda spokesman. “We are now working on the development of the 2018 powerunit but nothing specific can be mentioned at this time, other than the fact that we are working very hard to get further improvement to become more competitive in coming season.”

Of course, all parties are tight-lipped about whether this might sway McLaren’s decision, but with Mercedes and Ferrari power off the table, its only viable alternative is Renault. 

$12-14m F1 engines “not too expensive” insists Mercedes boss

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says customer F1 power unit supply deals are becoming cheaper, and insists teams shouldn't complain about the prices. The car giant’s F1 team principal suggests that prices will drop further after 2021, when a new engine formula will be introduced.

"I think by making the future engine regulations less complex the development costs of the manufacturers are going to go down," Wolff told Motorsport.com. "The engine development costs big money, and the engine departments of all the current suppliers are loss-making entities which shouldn't be the case, so we're trying to contain that.

"On the other side we have found an agreement with the FIA to reduce the prices to all engine customers over the next years to levels that are the lowest ever in F1. I think if you get this kind of engine at prices like $12-14m, which is what we're trying to achieve, I have no understanding for somebody that claims the engines are too expensive."

Mark Webber labels Max Verstappen “flaky”

Mark Webber says Max Verstappen's "flaky" approach to grand prix weekends is putting pressure on the Red Bull Racing squad. The former RBR driver claimed that the Dutchman has been "going off the road a lot" during Friday and Saturday running.

Webber did concede that Verstappen's points deficit to teammate Daniel Ricciardo was down to mechanical failures rather than mistakes on race day, and said: "Both of the guys have driven well this year, but Max has probably been a bit flaky in terms of the build-up to the races through the weekend. He's been going off the road a lot on Friday and Saturday, which puts pressure on mechanics getting the car ready. I'd like to see him on the road a bit more, but he's pushing the limits.”

In other news…

Autosport reveals favourite F1 car of all time after fans’ vote

F1 looking to add more street races in Asia

Vandoorne confirmed for 2018 season

Essential viewing: Red Bull RB13 technical analysis

That’s it for the first edition of Motorsport Debrief, have a great day. But before we go…

And finally: The headline we didn’t dare to run…

McLaren used to be indecisive about its engine choice, but now it’s not so sure

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Series Formula 1
Article type Special feature