A report claims the English team has made the tough call to walk away from its long-term engine supplier and major sponsor after an abysmal start to this season which has seen the team fail to secure a single Formula 1 championship point.
With McLaren’s performance issues widely attributed to the Honda engine, star driver Fernando Alonso is reportedly considering his future options and is out of contract at the end of this year.
Alonso’s forced retirement from the Canadian Grand Prix on Monday (AEDT) after engine troubles was the final straw for the Honda-McLaren partnership, The Daily Mail reports.
It is not a decision McLaren makes lightly. The call will cost the team $132 million (£78 million) to secure an engine supply deal with Formula 1 champions Mercedes as well as lost revenue from its deal with Honda.
It is a return to its roots for McLaren, who ran with Mercedes engines from 1995 until 2014 when it made the switch to Honda.
As part of the switch to Honda, McLaren also secured a long-term sponsorship agreement with Honda, making the Japanese car manufacturer the team’s premium sponsor.
It remains unclear if Honda will be held to see out its sponsorship agreement with McLaren if the team pulls the pin on their engine deal, however, recent reports claim Honda will be forced to see out at least part of its long term sponsorship deal which runs through until the end of 2022.
However a recent contrasting report states that McLaren’s decision to walk away from Honda would see the team lost a whopping $145 million in Honda contributions towards driver salaries, performance testing and car development.
The team has already reportedly moved to secure its next engine supplier with McLaren’s majority shareholder Mansour Ojjeh spotted in discussions with Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda and team boss Toto Wolff.
The Daily Mail reports the McLaren-Mercedes deal will likely be made official within the next few weeks, allowing the team to start work very shortly on its 2018 engines.
They will reportedly be forced to cough up to $18 million per season to run the Mercedes engines.
McLaren will continue to run the Honda power unit until the end of this year.
It has been a rocky relationship between Honda and McLaren this year with team officials going public with their criticism of the Honda engine.
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier described the Honda engine as “not good enough” after Alonso’s retirement in Canada.
“We dared to hope,” he said.
“For the first time we were running in 10th within spitting distance of the flag. OK, what we were daring to hope for was hardly rich pickings — a solitary world championship point for Fernando, who had driven superbly all afternoon.
“After so much toil and heartache, even that single point would have felt like a victory. And then came another gut-wrenching failure.
“It’s difficult to find the right words to express our disappointment, our frustration and, yes, our sadness. It’s simply and absolutely not good enough.”