FALLOUT ON THE CARDS? McLaren's engine supplier Honda are bearing the brunt of the team's disappointing season, with the F1 team placing the blame firmly on the Japanese company.Image: AP / Tom Boland
MONZA, Italy - Behind the scenes, McLaren is lobbying for Honda's F1 chief to be sacked.
That is the claim of multiple British newspapers, including the Times, Telegraph and Mail on Sunday (September 6), amid yet another woeful weekend for the Anglo-Japanese outfit at the Italian GP.
'One team' approach
McLaren has "written to the company's president, Takahiro Hachigo, calling on him to replace ... Yasuhisa Arai," said the Mail on Sunday (September 6).
The reports, citing unnamed sources, followed a particularly brutal interview session for Arai at Monza, where reporters asked him whether he would resign. "I do not answer," was his reply.
McLaren-Honda test driver Kevin Magnussen tweeted after the Italian GP:
As for whether he will apologise to Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button for wasting a year of their careers, Arai seemed puzzled. "Why? Why?" he said.
The signs of fracture between McLaren and Honda, however, are now becoming clearer, despite stoical efforts until now to maintain the 'one team' approach.
Arai was asked on Saturday (September 5) about his embarrassing recent claim that Honda's latest engine is actually better than Renault's, and while disputing the 25 horse power figure, stood by his stance.
Blame placed on Honda
"As one team, I have to agree with Arai-San's statement," said team boss Eric Boullier.
But earlier at Monza, Frenchman Boullier admitted that 2015 so far has given him "plenty of embarrassing moments".
As for whether McLaren-Honda will ultimately split, just as Red Bull-Renault is apparently set to do, he answered: "For us, this question does not arise.
Boullier insisted: "The other team (Red Bull) is a preferred customer, but we are the factory team of Honda."
Lead driver Alonso, however, may now be letting his admirable patience to date begin to slip, accusing Honda of being almost exclusively the cause of McLaren's lack of pace.
The Spaniard said: "On a track that has only six corners, we can see on the data that we are losing three tenths in those corners, the rest of the three seconds is on the straight."
"We have to be professional"
Alonso told Spanish reporters: "On the straight we just press the throttle and keep the steering wheel straight."
However, Alonso also said he remains committed to McLaren-Honda.
Alonso is quoted by Spain's El Confidencial: "We will not put the finger in our own wounds, we have to be professional and remain quiet.
"The only thing we can do is work, work, work."
And team mate Jenson Button also said he is prepared to ride out the storm.
Button said: "We knew that Spa and Monza would be like this. But that is why we're now having this discussion. If we are going for places 5 and 6 in Singapore, everything will calm down."