McLaren sounds out Mercedes about F1 engine supply

McLaren has sounded out Mercedes about a supply of customer engines in Formula 1, sources have confirmed, if it concludes that it is best to split with current partner Honda.

McLaren sounds out Mercedes about F1 engine supply
The McLaren MCL32 of Fernando Alonso is returned to the pits on a truck
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
Eric Boullier, McLaren MCL32
The McLaren MCL32 of Fernando Alonso is returned to the pits on a truck
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
Yusuke Hasegawa, Senior Managing Officer, Honda, Zak Brown, Executive Director of McLaren Technology Group, and Eric Boullier, Racing Director, McLaren, toast the McLaren MCL32

On the back of a difficult pre-season testing programme, with Honda's new engine proving to be unreliable and under-powered, McLaren has been evaluating various options to try to save its campaign.

While Honda itself is adamant that it can resolve its reliability dramas which will then unlock steps in power, McLaren knows that it cannot afford for the situation to stay as it is.

There are fears that if Honda does not make steps to improve, then there is a danger that McLaren could be the slowest team on the grid and struggle to finish races.

That could deliver a huge financial hit in terms of constructors' championship income, as well as limit the potential to attract a much-needed title sponsor for 2018.

While meetings have taken place since Barcelona testing to try to push Honda to take action needed to lift its engine programme, McLaren has not dismissed the idea of looking elsewhere.

One avenue is the customer Mercedes engine supply that had originally been earmarked for the Manor team, and perhaps could be ready as early as later this season if Honda shows no signs of improving.

Sources suggest that a preliminary discussion has taken place to enquire about whether a supply deal would be possible in the short term – and the idea was not rebuffed.

McLaren declined to elaborate on the speculation regarding Mercedes, but said that all avenues were being looked at.

"Together with Honda we are considering options, but we will not comment on media speculation," said a spokesman.

However, for talks to advance, then McLaren will first of all have to be out of a contractual commitment to Honda – something that is unlikely to be easy.

The Woking-based team and Japanese car manufacturer have a long-term deal in place and the indications from Honda are that it remains fully committed to sorting out its F1 programme.

Much is now likely to depend on the progress that Honda is able to make over the next weeks and months however, as it responds to the latest push from McLaren to improve matters.

For McLaren, just three years into its partnership with Honda, a move to Mercedes would come against the backdrop of the team having said several years ago that it believed it could never win the title with a customer engine.

Earlier this week, however, racing director Eric Boullier said he believed McLaren would be in the hunt for victory if it was powered by Mercedes engines.

"Yes, we'd be winning again," he told Spanish newspaper AS.

 

shares
comments
Hakkinen rejoins McLaren in partner ambassador role

Previous article

Hakkinen rejoins McLaren in partner ambassador role

Next article

Analysis: Why have shark fins returned to F1?

Analysis: Why have shark fins returned to F1?
Load comments
How Verstappen has become F1 champion material Prime

How Verstappen has become F1 champion material

As Red Bull and Honda go all-out for victory in the Japanese engine manufacturer’s last season of its latest Formula 1 dalliance, Max Verstappen finds himself thrust into a compelling title fight with Lewis Hamilton. He told OLEG KARPOV about his evolution into a world championship contender and why Red Bull's no compromise ethos suits him down to the ground

Why long-run times should please Red Bull in Austin F1 battle Prime

Why long-run times should please Red Bull in Austin F1 battle

Mercedes has been on a roll of late in the ultra-tight fight to win the 2021 Formula 1 world championship. It started off well in practice at Austin for this weekend’s US Grand Prix, but Red Bull got closer as Friday unfolded and even seemed to find an edge in one critical area of what seems set to be set to be another close contest.

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen Prime

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen

The 2021 Formula 1 title battle is finely poised with six races remaining, as just six points separate championship leader Max Verstappen from seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. In such a closely-fought season, the outcome could hinge on several small factors playing the way of Red Bull or Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021
Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed? Prime

Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed?

Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll is determined to make the group a billion-dollar business. MARK GALLAGHER analyses his latest play – bringing former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh into the fold

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021
Remembering Switzerland’s first F1 winner Prime

Remembering Switzerland’s first F1 winner

Stepping up to F1 in 1962, Jo Siffert shone with Rob Walker Racing Team and BRM before his career was abruptly ended in a fatal crash at Brands Hatch in 1971. Kevin Turner looks back at the life of Switzerland's first F1 winner on the 50th anniversary of his death

Formula 1
Oct 21, 2021
What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat Prime

What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat

OPINION: Max Verstappen is back in the lead of the 2021 Formula 1 drivers’ championship, with the season’s final flyaway events set to get underway in the USA this weekend. But a defensive stance he’s recently adopted could have a lasting impact for the Red Bull driver when it comes to his chances of defeating Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 21, 2021
The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest Prime

The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest

Despite appearing to adjust to life as a Ferrari driver with relative ease, it was far from straightforward under the surface for Carlos Sainz. But, having made breakthroughs in rather different routes at the Russian and Turkish races, he’s now targeting even greater feats for the rest of the Formula 1 season

Formula 1
Oct 20, 2021
The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team Prime

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team

Emerson Fittipaldi is better remembered for his Formula 1 world championships and Indianapolis 500 successes than for the spell running his eponymous F1 team. Despite a hugely talented roll call of staff, it was a period of internal strife, limited funding and few results - as remembered by Tim Wright.

Formula 1
Oct 18, 2021