McLaren has announced they will be splitting with engine supplier Honda at the end of the season. The news has been rumoured for weeks with the British team switching to Renault power.
The news sees the end of one of the most famous partnerships in the history of formula one. When McLaren renewed the partnership with Honda in 2015 they had hoped of regaining the glory the had in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
However, that partnership has not seen a podium for the team and has been dogged by reliability and poor performance. This season the marriage between the two has been increasingly strained as there has been no sign of progress.
The deal with Renault powered Toro Rosso after Red Bull’s junior outfit surrendered their supply of Renault power units to join up with Honda. While the headline is about the engine deal, it will have wider impact on the sport and the driver market
Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz is to be loaned to Renault to drive alongside Nico Hulkenberg next season. With Fernando Alonso now expected to sign a deal with McLaren.
McLaren has an avenue back to respectability and will effectively now assume a holding position for three seasons ahead of the sport’s engine revamp for 2021 when McLaren themselves may seek to make their own engines or arrange a deal with Porsche.
The news is also a relief for Formula One too, the sports rights holders Liberty Media has been keen to keep Honda in the sport. For Toro Rosso, it means they can grow into a fully-fledged team and break ties with sister team Red Bull.
Red Bull are also frustrated with their engine supplier Renault, however, they will not want the underperforming Honda engine. This does, however, give them options in the future.
However, Renault could terminate Red Bull’s contract next year, effectively forcing them into a Honda deal.
This is a huge gamble as well for McLaren, as it’s set to lose £75m and will be now paying Renault for engines.