The majority of McLaren’s problems in F1 this year can be traced back to one root cause: the team’s Honda-supplied engine.
As the saga of McLaren’s engine plans for 2018 rumbles on and on and on – and given a further twist with today’s observation that Fernando Alonso has removed all references to the Woking outfit from his social media accounts and website – Zak Brown (groan) has revealed that from 2021 the team could build its own engines.
McLaren boss Zak Brown noted the refreshed engine regulations could be reason enough reason for McLaren to make the move. It’s believed that those new rules and guidelines will help significantly reduce costs for manufacturers, therefore ending its current struggles and leaving it up to the R&D department to make things right.
“We’re interested to see what the new engine formula is in 2021 and whether we consider doing our own engine, or whether other people would come in under new rules,” he is quoted as saying by Autosport.
“Right now we’ve got to focus on the next three years and, as soon as we get that figured out, we’ve got to look,” he adds, in a masterpiece of understatement.
“I think the landscape in Formula 1 is going to change in a very positive way from ’21 onwards,” he insists, “with budget caps, revenue redistribution, and new engine rules. So it’s a little hard to take any decisions on ’21 with so many things that will change.
“For us to do our own engine, that’s not something we’ve done before, so that would require a good lead time and some good capital expenditure,” he adds, again venturing way beyond the realms of understatement
“We’d consider doing it. We just need to have an understanding of the platform, what are the rules, and what is it going to cost. We certainly wouldn’t be in a position to spend the hundreds of millions that it takes now to develop engines, so they’re going to have to change the engine formula for it to be something that economically would be viable for us.”
Indeed, last time we heard, McLaren was seeking investment not to build its own engines but to pay off Ron Dennis who had secured 13 of the company’s most prized and historic F1 cars as collateral as he awaited on the next instalment of the £275m owed for his shares in the company.
Furthermore, if McLaren does end its agreement with Honda, other than the end of the current cash-flow from the Japanese manufacturer into the Woking coffers, there is talk that Honda might take legal action for the broken contract.