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Official: McLaren splits with Honda, names Renault as engine supplier

2017-09-15 13:36

Image: AFP / Josep Lago

Singapore — McLaren will end its acrimonious partnership with engine supplier Honda at the end of the 2017 Formula 1 season and work with Renault.

Renault, meanwhile, signed Spanish driver Carlos Sainz Jr from Toro Rosso for 2018.

Honda has been supplying McLaren with engines since 2015, an attempt at rekindling what was once a hugely successful partnership in the glory era of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. But results have been abject and star driver Fernando Alonso has grown increasingly exasperated.

'In best interest'

The two-time F1 champion, who has won 32 career races, has finished only three races this season with a best result of sixth.

McLaren executive chairman, Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, said in a McLaren team statement on Friday: "It is in the best interests of both companies that we pursue our racing ambitions separately." 

McLaren executive director Zak Brown added that "for a combination of reasons our partnership has not flourished as any of us would have wished."

Renault will supply McLaren for the next three years until 2020, a move which is likely to keep Alonso behind the wheel.

Brown said: "It is the first time that Renault will work with McLaren and we are proud to have reached an agreement with an organization that has such a rich Formula One history," said Jerome Stoll, the president of Renault's F1 racing team.

"We know that McLaren will push us hard on track."

Renault has a far more reliable engine than Honda, with Nico Hulkenberg consistently in the points for Renault and completing 10 of 13 races. With Alonso behind the wheel, and using a Renault engine, McLaren could expect a significant performance boost next year considering it has one of the best chassis in F1.

Honda to stay in F1

Despite being one of the oldest drivers on the grid, the 36-year-old Alonso is still widely considered to be one of the best.

Honda, however, is staying in F1.

In a raft of changes announced on Friday, Honda announced a "multi-year" deal to supply Toro Rosso — the feeder team to Red Bull — from next season.

Honda will take over from Renault as Toro Rosso's engine supplier, with Sainz Jr. leaving Toro Rosso to join Renault on a one-year deal for 2018 as part of the shake-up. He will partner Hulkenberg and replace struggling British driver Jolyon Palmer, who has not scored a point this season.

Although not yet confirmed, Red Bull is also likely to split with Renault and also take Honda engines — but reportedly from 2019. This would give Toro Rosso the chance to test out the engines over a whole season before both teams use them.

Christian Horner, Red Bull's team principal, has been highly critical of Renault's performance since the move to turbo hybrid engines in 2014.

Max Verstappen has failed to finish six times for Red Bull this season: Twice as many DNFs — failures to complete a race — as last season.

"We pay a hell of a lot of money for the engine," Horner said last month after the Belgian Grand Prix. "They need to sort it out."

Horner was expected to attend a news conference later Friday at the Singapore GP, as was Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul.

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