F1 power unit musical chairs
McLaren drops Honda for Renault while the Japanese engine supplier partners with Toro Rosso in F1.
McLaren will be Renauilt powered in Formula 1 as from next season having terminated its agreement with Honda. In effect, it goes from being a works Honda team to a customer Renault one. Depending on the new engine regulations that come into effect after 2020, McLaren has indicated that it could then build its own engine. Another option is that Porsche might return to Formula 1, possibly as just an engine supplier, in which case it could supply McLaren.
Renault will also cease supplying Red Bull Racing from the end of next year, a move that will not please either of the Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, who are now clear transfer targets for Ferrari and Mercedes.
“This is a strategic decision for Renault Sport Racing,” said Jérôme Stoll, President of Renault Sport Racing. “It is the first time that Renault will work with McLaren and we are proud to have reached an agreement with an organisation that has such a rich Formula 1 history. This alliance is not only technical and sporting, but also comes with marketing and communication benefits. We know that McLaren will push us hard on track and this competition will be to the benefit of all.”
“We are pleased to confirm a new partnership for Renault Sport Racing and McLaren Racing and excited to embark on this new relationship of these two historic brands in Formula 1 cooperating together for the first time,” said Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director, Renault Sport Racing.
“This agreement is perfectly in line with our mid-term strategy and with our objective to be in a winning position as a team in 2020. We are looking forward to seeing the Renault brand on next year’s McLaren and racing our new partners on track. McLaren is an inspirational team with two talented drivers which should not only support our engine development efforts but also act as a reference and an example in the ongoing construction of our chassis operations. This is an exciting new beginning with a championship-winning team that is hungry to return to glory.”
“As an organisation, McLaren has always worked extremely hard to form lasting partnerships with its technical suppliers,” said Zak Brown, McLaren Technology Group Executive Director. “We’re convinced that we can bring real value to Renault Sport Racing as we work alongside it to develop this current power unit into a regular race winner.”
“It is unfortunate that we must part ways with McLaren before fulfilling our ambitions,” said Honda President Takahiro Hachigo. “However, we made the decision with a belief that this is the best course of action for each other’s future. On behalf of Honda, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to fans who have been very supportive of the team as well as the drivers, team members and everyone involved who shared with us in the joys and disappointments since we began preparing for our return to F1 in 2015. Honda will continue the fight together with McLaren all the way to the end of the 2017 season, and then continue its F1 racing activities in 2018 and beyond.”
Meanwhile Honda will be supplying Scuderia Toro Rosso for the next three years from the start of 2018. It means that Scuderia Toro Rosso will be adapting to its fourth power unit supplier in as many years, having run Renault this year and Ferrari in 2015. However, James Key, the team’s technical director, is now especially worried about the situation.
“It will be a question of adaption of our plans rather than a wholesale change and we are in the process of re-planning our design and production activities in conjunction with Honda to ensure that we both hit all our important deadlines. 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. We will be working hard not to only re-design the PU installation but also ensure that this has minimal or no effect on the ongoing development work for 2018 – that is our current target. The architecture of the car will change in line with the PU requirements and our chassis and gearbox designs are currently under review to be adapted accordingly, similarly we will be working closely with Honda on the performance aspects of the PU installation that the chassis will influence to ensure we maximise the potential of the package as a whole from the outset. We look forward to a strong, stable and proactive partnership with our colleagues at Honda.”