End of the road could give F1 a new course

Sport360 - - Motorsport | Singapore Grand Prix - By Staff Re­porter @Sport360 ed­i­to­rial@sport360.com

McLaren will drop Honda en­gines in favour of Re­nault at the end of this sea­son, end­ing a trou­bled part­ner­ship with the Ja­panese man­u­fac­turer as they bid to re­turn to the top of For­mula One.

The cel­e­brated Bri­tish mar­que an­nounced a three-year deal cov­er­ing 2018, 2019 and 2020 with France’s Re­nault, who si­mul­ta­ne­ously un­veiled a split with Toro Rosso – who will now be pow­ered by Honda. The re­lated moves, which had been widely flagged, could ul­ti­mately her­ald a shake-up in the peck­ing or­der of For­mula One – which is cur­rently dom­i­nated by Mercedes and Ferrari.

Honda’s exit is likely to con­vince two-time world cham­pion Fer­nando Alonso, who has re­peat­edly threat­ened to quit over the mis­fir­ing Honda en­gines, to stay at McLaren next year.

As part of the deal, Toro Rosso loaned highly-rated Spa­niard Car­los Sainz to Re­nault for 2018, where he will partner Nico Hulkenberg – with Bri­tain’s Jolyon Palmer el­bowed out.

“Today’s an­nounce­ment gives us the sta­bil­ity we need to move ahead with our chas­sis and tech­ni­cal pro­gramme for 2018 with­out any fur­ther hes­i­ta­tion,” said McLaren ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Zak Brown.

Bri­tain’s most suc­cess­ful For­mula One team have failed to win a race since 2012 and are a long way from chal­leng­ing Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull.

The vexed col­lab­o­ra­tion with Honda came to a head this month in Italy as Alonso and Stof­fel Van­doorne both col­lected grid penal­ties and failed to fin­ish. Van­doorne was pe­nalised be­fore the race after be­ing fit­ted with a brand-new en­gine, and still suf­fered a power fail­ure.

Honda will now try their luck with Toro Rosso, who ad­mit­ted the tim­ing of the an­nounce­ment, late in the sea­son, was far from ideal.

“There are some chal­lenges to face given the time of year but Toro Rosso has faced many dif­fi­cult tasks with tim­ing in the past and has the flex­i­bil­ity to deal with it,” said Toro Rosso’s tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor James Key.

“Torro Rosso has faced many dif­fi­cult tasks in the past” – Key

Still McLaren’s man?: Fer­nando Alonso.

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