Most people I know have a favourite English Premier League football team (Chelsea for me, Manchester United for most others) and a favourite Formula 1 Team (McLaren for me, Ferrari for most others). It could be just a passing interest or something a bit more serious.
As a long time McLaren fan this past three years of competition has been particularly tough to stomach as Honda, their Power Unit Partner, struggles to catch up with the complexities of the sport having left in 2008. It hurts to see both parties, McLaren in particular, going through such a tough time.
McLaren have had enough of failure and the cost in terms of sponsors (Partners) leaving and competition points (revenue). At time of writing it is strongly rumoured that Renault will be replacing Honda at McLaren. Renault have their own issues when it comes to performance.
I think McLaren should stick with Honda for the following reasons:
- Moving to Renault isn’t a big enough gain in performance / reliability compared to Honda – A move to Mercedes Power Units would make sense
- Honda will get their act together eventually
- It could be too late to change without affecting the rest of the package for next year.
- There could be a huge financial hit leaving Honda before the contract expires
- Formula 1 needs more manufacturers and unless Honda get picked up by another team, they will leave.
- Financially despite the loss of prize money and partners, losing the Honda contribution will be tough for McLaren.
Fernando Alonso is McLaren’s biggest draw-card at the moment and driving brilliantly to get the best out of the situation and has been open in that he will only stay at McLaren if they are competitive (read: get me a better power unit or I’m off). My thought on this is that for sure Alonso is doing a great job and Alonso/McLaren 2.0 is a strong mix but no driver is bigger than the team.
Honda will get this current situation sorted, eventually and McLaren will return to winning ways. General consensus from reading about and watching F1 is that it is a matter of when, not if Honda will come good. They have to, really, as the effect on company moral and marketing alone can’t be ideal. The problem is that “eventually” is not nearly good enough for McLaren.
Next season teams will only be allowed three power units per season, down from four this year, piling further pressure on Honda to get performance and reliability greatly improved. Honda are not the only team though in this situation. Currently Renault are having their own struggles with teams already facing penalties.
To me this confirms that McLaren should at least wait until next May before deciding what to do. Right now, I think the team should stick with Honda other wise the design of next season’s car will also be compromised. Better to stick it out at least until next May and hopefully enjoy success when it arrives.
As painful as this current situation is for me as a McLaren fan, I can’t see switching from Honda to anyone but Mercedes (Ferrari are not keen to help as both firms compete in the same road car market) as a way forward.
Then again, there was a time that McLaren Mercedes also had their engine issues in 2004.