Ditching Honda a new chapter for post-Dennis McLaren

Bayden Westerweller Roar Guru

By Bayden Westerweller, Bayden Westerweller is a Roar Guru

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    McLaren’s impending divorce from Honda will always carry the ‘what if?’ handle, yet the consequences of dissolving the relationship are minuscule in contrast to the urgency for results of any significance to be achieved.

    A works partnership has long been considered sacred, the cornerstone of a legitimate championship bid – not to mention the considerable capital injection. As such, McLaren’s imminent repudiation of a $100 million annual contribution from Honda speaks to the terminal nature of the marriage.

    Not since 1994 has the Woking outfit been confronted with customer status, thus its willingness to place faith in Renault – the French manufacturer relatively listless in the hybrid era – is indicative of how grave the situation has become.

    They’d be under no illusions that titles are off the table in the foreseeable future, though it doesn’t mean that relative success can’t be enjoyed. At any rate, it will represent a significant upgrade on its return across the balance of its collaboration with the Japanese manufacturer.

    Working towards 2021, when the new Concorde agreement and next regulation overhaul are set to take effect, McLaren should take the intervening seasons as they come. If nothing else, they must utilise the window as an opportunity to restore its reputation to the degree of becoming commercially lucrative once more rather than chasing an immediate fix.

    Whether another ‘factory’ works association is feasible in the long term – that is, if the marque isn’t scarred by its experience with Honda – is a decision for another day. Contemplating an in-house effort is also something which can’t be rushed, and this dictates the parameters within which McLaren must be content to operate over the following three campaigns.

    (Image: GEPA Pictures/Red Bull Content Pool).

    If you asked Red Bull Racing how they feel about its past four seasons, they would claim supreme disappointment and proceed to apportion blame at the feet of Renault, which has been forced to endure the Milton Keynes squad’s wrath since 2014.

    Six victories is a stark parallel to the lofty days of 2010 to 2013, yet anything close to this figure would be a gratefully received by McLaren through to 2020 when even a podium hasn’t been achieved since the opening race of the 2014 season. Now that’s something to complain about. It’s all relative.

    While nothing to aspire to, contending with the fairweather energy drinks company for best-of-the-rest honours behind Mercedes and Ferrari represents something capable of pitching to potential sponsors in gathering a formidable war chest to launch an all-out assault from 2021.

    Let us consider that McLaren hasn’t enjoyed a truly dominant season since 1998, and it’s apparent that waiting a little longer in the pursuit of futureproofing its fortunes, having consistently under achieved since the turn of the 21st century, is a worthy compromise.

    Shedding Honda also allows the team to turn a definitive leaf on the Ron Dennis chapter. His infatuation with works status and attempt at rekindling past glory was a costly misstep which shouldn’t be borne by his successors, tireless employees and fans any longer.

    There’s little prospect the following three seasons could possibly be as long and painful as the past three, so long as McLaren realises where it went wrong last time and are prepared to be a little patient, with the promise of something nearing pride to hang its hat on in the meantime.

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    The Crowd Says (6)

    • Roar Guru

      September 15th 2017 @ 7:34pm
      Jawad Yaqub said | September 15th 2017 @ 7:34pm | ! Report

      It’s been said quite a bit and I am not afraid to say it again, but it is extremely disappointing to see this partnership not yield the results that would have been desirable. Now moving on, I would find it as poetic justice if Red Bull (when equipped with Honda power) and eternally suffer what McLaren has, only for McLaren to stick out the next few years with Renault power – until 2021, when they introduce their own in-house power-unit.

      Red Bull to be successful again should have explored this back in 2015, but being the petulant bunch that they are, they want the answers to be provided for them – rather than doing it themselves. If McLaren can be patient now and win back the support of sponsors and get that revenue going, which they had have lost – then may be a force to be reckoned with, before Red Bull-Honda are.

      • Roar Guru

        September 15th 2017 @ 8:54pm
        Bayden Westerweller said | September 15th 2017 @ 8:54pm | ! Report

        McLaren can’t feel too down for cutting its losses, regardless of Honda’s future outcomes with Toro Rosso (and Red Bull), they were simply unable to gain any traction in the partnership despite their own application. The next few seasons allow them to catch their breath and have a meticulous approach to the new regulations, whether that entails in house power or with another manufacturer.

        • September 16th 2017 @ 7:04pm
          steve said | September 16th 2017 @ 7:04pm | ! Report

          It will be most interesting to see how Honda fair with Torro Rosso next season and possibly the main Red Bull outfit the following year if all things go well. Will be most fascinating to see which direction Red Bull head in after the 2018 season, their last with Renault supply. There have been rumours that they are looking at an engine supply deal with Volkswagen under the Audi or Porsche banner. Porsche apparently considering an F1 return.

          As for McClaren, I just have this sneaking suspicion they are going to come out on the wrong side of walking away from Honda.

          • Roar Guru

            September 18th 2017 @ 5:50pm
            Bayden Westerweller said | September 18th 2017 @ 5:50pm | ! Report

            Red Bull has made its own bed whatever the following three seasons entail, they probably aren’t too concerned though if reports they’re selling to Aston Martin following 2020 are true.

            McLaren simply had to try something different, if it doesn’t work out with Renault, they can’t stand accused of settling for the disaster that has been Honda, and again, their attention must be set on 2021 and beyond when they’ll emerge as a force once more.

            • September 21st 2017 @ 9:35am
              CG555 said | September 21st 2017 @ 9:35am | ! Report

              When they emerge as a force once more? You type that like it is a given. In ’14 they had the monster Merc powering them and they still only finished 5th in the championship. They are definitely good at one thing, hyping themselves up and their fans fall head over heels for it every time. I’m so looking forward to seeing them the 3rd place Renault team next year as well as looking at the back side of the TRH all season long.

    • Roar Guru

      September 15th 2017 @ 7:34pm
      Jawad Yaqub said | September 15th 2017 @ 7:34pm | ! Report

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