McLaren, Honda in talks over en­gines

New Straits Times - - Sport -

LONDON: McLaren say they are “con­sid­er­ing op­tions” with en­gine sup­pli­ers Honda amid me­dia re­ports that the For­mula One team have sounded out for­mer en­gine part­ners Mercedes over a pos­si­ble fu­ture sup­ply fol­low­ing prob­lems in test­ing.

The BBC re­ported on Thurs­day that the Mercedes board and mo­tor­sport di­rec­tor Toto Wolff, who also runs the Mercedes F1 team, were said to be open-minded about the pos­si­bil­ity of sup­ply­ing their for­mer part­ner.

“McLaren have not dis­missed the idea of look­ing else­where,” re­ported the mo­tor­sport.com web­site, part of the Mo­tor­sport Net­work whose chair­man is McLaren Tech­nol­ogy Group’s new ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Zak Brown.

Mercedes had no com­ment. McLaren said they would not com­ment on me­dia spec­u­la­tion but a spokesman ac­knowl­edged pre-sea­son had been “chal­leng­ing and dis­ap­point­ing.”

“We are work­ing with Honda to ad­dress short­com­ings and de­fi­cien­cies,” he said. “To­gether with Honda we are con­sid­er­ing op­tions.”

McLaren had a highly suc­cess­ful, cham­pi­onship-win­ning, part­ner­ship with Honda be­tween 1988 and 1992 but the re­newal of ties in 2015 has been trou­bled for a team that have not won a race since 2012.

Mercedes, who sup­plied McLaren be­tween 1995 and 2014, have had the dom­i­nant en­gine of the new turbo hy­brid era that re­placed the old V8s in 2014.

With Lewis Hamil­ton and nowre­tired Nico Ros­berg, they have won 51 of 59 races in the last three sea­sons with the Mercedes works team.

McLaren fin­ished ninth in 2015 and sixth last sea­son.

Honda had hoped to be more com­pet­i­tive this year but re­sults from test­ing have been dire, with re­peated break­downs and McLaren com­plet­ing far fewer laps than ri­vals with much slower times.

“We have only one prob­lem, and that is the power unit. There is no re­li­a­bil­ity and there is no power,” the team’s dou­ble world cham­pion Fer­nando Alonso told re­porters last week.

“I am driv­ing at my best ... I feel the best driver out there, I just need an en­gine that can run as quick as the oth­ers on the straights,” said the Spa­niard.

McLaren’s rac­ing di­rec­tor Eric Boul­lier told re­porters in Barcelona last week that there was “no plan at all” to split from Honda.

The French­man was also quoted by Span­ish news­pa­per AS, how­ever, as say­ing McLaren would be win­ning races with Mercedes en­gines.

Both sides have a long-term con­tract, and McLaren ben­e­fit from con­sid­er­able fund­ing from Honda, but re­newed spec­u­la­tion about the part­ner­ship will put pres­sure on the Ja­panese man­u­fac­turer to re­solve the is­sues. Reuters

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