McLaren eyes Renault engines for 2018 (5th Update)

Alonso will finally get a different power unit
Alonso will finally get a different power unit

UPDATE Next season will see McLaren running power units from Renault, following their split from Honda announced earlier today. Honda will instead supply Toro Rosso, who are currently using Renault engines.

McLaren have agreed an engine supply partnership with Renault for the 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons. Despite a combined Formula 1 presence that stretches back to 1977, it will mark the first time that the two brands have ever collaborated.

Meanwhile, Toro Rosso have struck a multi-year agreement to put Honda’s power units in the back of their cars from 2018, having used Renault engines this year as well in 2014 and 2015. In that period they scored 137 points together, with two fourth places their best results.

McLaren say their Renault partnership will be one that will challenge for victory, following three disappointing seasons with Honda power.

“Today’s announcement gives us the stability we need to move ahead with our chassis and technical program for 2018 without any further hesitation," said Zak Brown, McLaren Technology Group Executive Director.

“As an organisation, McLaren has always worked extremely hard to form lasting partnerships with its technical suppliers. 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."

The deal means that in addition to their own works squad, Renault will have two other championship-winning teams – McLaren and Red Bull – providing feedback on engine development next year.

“This is a strategic decision," said Jerome Stoll, President of Renault Sport Racing. “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."

09/12/17 McLaren has reached agreement with Honda to be released from their partnership and switch to Renault power from the 2018 Formula 1 season, Autosport reportd.

Sources close to the deal have confirmed to Autosport that McLaren has agreed a three-year deal with Renault, taking it to the end of the current F1 engine regulations cycle at the end of 2020.

It is understood McLaren will get parity on power unit specification with the works Renault team and fellow customer Red Bull, while Toro Rosso's deal to switch from Renault to Honda – freeing up a supply for McLaren – has also been signed.

The McLaren-Renault deal has helped move Fernando Alonso closer to signing a potentially multi-year extension to his original 2015-17 contract with the team

With the deal McLaren gets the same Renault engine Red Bulls says you cannot win with until 2021.
With the deal McLaren gets the same Renault engine Red Bulls says you cannot win with until 2021.

09/09/17 Carlos Sainz Jr. has signed a deal to join Renault and trigger a series of domino changes that will secure McLaren the French car manufacturer's engines for 2018, Autosport reports.

While news of McLaren's progress in its efforts to switch from Honda engines has not been forthcoming in public, behind-the-scenes developments have been taking place that appear to show it has succeeded.

High level sources have confirmed that Sainz's deal has been agreed as part of a sweetener for Renault to end its Toro Rosso contract early.

With the Sainz deal arranged, that has opened the way for Toro Rosso to finalise a switch to Honda engines for next year, which in turn ensures McLaren will get hold of a supply of customer Renault power units for 2018.

After a frantic Italian Grand Prix weekend, where discussions to sort the McLaren-Honda situation were intense, it emerged that Sainz was becoming a key part of the equation.

Renault indicated that it was wanted some incentive to switch its customer supply from Toro Rosso to McLaren.

With Sainz, it has a promising youngster that to run alongside Nico Hulkenberg to help its efforts to move up the grid.

09/04/17 The McLaren Formula 1 team is poised to end its "bedeviled relationship with Honda" by agreeing to a deal for Renault to supply its engines from next season, according to Oliver Brown of the London TELEGRAPH. After "another gut-wrenching race for the team," with Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne both receiving grid penalties but failing to reach the checkered flag, "the bonds with Honda are now ruptured beyond repair." Honda Head of Motorsport Mashashi Yamamato flew in from Japan this weekend "for crisis talks," but McLaren's dialog with Renault is "already well-advanced."

Should an agreement be finalized next week, Alonso would, according to McLaren Exec Dir Zak Brown, be "very likely" to stay. It will be "hugely expensive for McLaren to break ties with Honda that were supposed to last 10 years, but the situation has become untenable." McLaren Racing Dir Eric Boullier "made no attempt to tone down his displeasure." He said, "The talent of our drivers shone, and we held on to hope that we would be able to achieve a positive result against the odds, but once again we were left dejected and dissatisfied. For the whole team, it's utterly frustrating." TELEGRAPH

AUTOWEEK's Sam Hall reported Brown expects to make an announcement on the team's '18 power unit supplier next week. Brown said, "We're going to make a decision within the week or ultimately we'll get into a situation where we technically create some problems with our chassis. What we can't have is that we solve our power issue and then show up with a chassis that isn't adequate, so we have to make a decision next week." When talking about the pair of retirements at Monza — an MGU-K failure for Vandoorne and a gearbox issue for Alonso — Brown "vented his frustrations at Honda, holding very little back in his criticism." He said, "(It was) not very exciting but that was predictable. Being at the back of the grid, we knew that we weren't going to power through the field like the Red Bulls did, so it was disappointing." AUTOWEEK.

NOT ENOUGH: MOTORSPORT's Lawrence Barretto reported Honda is "fearful it cannot do enough" to convince McLaren to continue its F1 partnership but the company "will not stop trying." If McLaren decides it cannot continue with its current engine partner, and Toro Rosso elects to stay put with Renault, Honda "would be forced out of F1." Despite the uncertainty, Honda has been "pushing ahead with an aggressive development plan that yielded upgrades at Spa and Monza." Honda F1 CEO Yusuke Hasegawa said, "I'm still trying to make good performance to convince them [McLaren] but I'm not sure it will be enough. We Honda never give up to keep this collaboration." While the situation "could have become a distraction" for Honda's staff at Sakura and Milton Keynes, Hasegawa believes it is having the "opposite effect." He said, "It accelerating our development. It becomes motivational inside the factory" MOTORSPORT

POTENTIAL SOLUTION: In London, Jack de Menezes reported F1 execs are "attempting to put a plan in place that will keep Honda on the grid" even if McLaren axes the Japanese engine supplier for Renault. FIA President Jean Todt met with F1 CEO Chase Carey and Yamamoto at Monza to discuss a plan to keep Honda in the sport, "with one potential solution appearing to be a switch to the Toro Rosso outfit." Renault has made it clear that it will only work with McLaren if it drops its supply to Toro Rosso, with Renault Sport Managing Dir Cyril Abiteboul confirming the company cannot go beyond its three-team supply "due to current concerns over reliability." F1 Managing Dir, Commercial Operations Sean Bratches said, "We don't want to lose Honda. Honda is a long and valued partner of F1. We're trying to do everything we can to encourage the respective parties to keep them in the sport and grow because we think there's a huge opportunity going forward for everyone involved in F1." INDEPENDENT

REUTERS' Alan Baldwin reported the talk in the paddock at Monza was of a deal, "likely to be sealed in the next two weeks before the Singapore Grand Prix," for Honda to switch to Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso and Renault to replace it at McLaren. A source said "that seemed to be the direction all parties were heading in, with benefits for all concerned." McLaren would get an engine that has triumphed this season in the back of a Red Bull and F1 "would see Honda stay in the sport." Toro Rosso "would gain a significant financial contribution" to its budget and an engine that "could, when competitive, also be used by Red Bull." REUTERS

09/04/17

Alonso will have Renault power in 2018
Alonso will have Renault power in 2018

(GMM) McLaren is poised to announce its switch from Honda to Renault power for the 2018 season.

It was a weekend of high-politicking at Monza, with the outcome expected to be McLaren dumping Honda, the Japanese supplier moving to Toro Rosso, and Fernando Alonso staying at a newly Renault-powered McLaren for 2018.

"We know what the Renault engine can do — Red Bull has done five or six consecutive podiums," Alonso said at Monza.

"As a driver I can choose more or less where I want to go and what category I want to be in.

"McLaren is the team with the second best numbers in the history of this sport and they want to win again, and as a member of this team I want that as well," he added.

The Spaniard's boss, Zak Brown, confirmed that it's "very, very likely" that if the McLaren-Renault deal is completed, Alonso will sign a new deal for 2018.

Alonso continued: "It's an important week for McLaren to make some decisions. Hopefully we'll know something before Singapore so we can make some comment there."

Many in the paddock also believe that, although McLaren is giving up millions in works Honda backing, the move to Renault is a good idea.

"McLaren is a good racing team, but Honda … I know them well," former works Honda driver Jacques Villeneuve told AS newspaper. "I do not think they will be successful, and Fernando needs to win."

"McLaren-Renault will be much better than McLaren-Honda," the Canadian predicted.

Prost, Abiteboul and Brawn seen leaving McLaren. The Honda engine is now almost on par with the Renault and by next year will be faster. What is McLaren thinking?
Prost, Abiteboul and Brawn seen leaving McLaren. The Honda engine is now almost on par with the Renault and by next year will be faster. What is McLaren thinking?

09/02/17 (GMM) A meeting at Monza could have decided the fate of the McLaren-Honda relationship.

Ahead of the Italian grand prix, Renault chiefs Alain Prost and Cyril Abiteboul were spotted leaving the McLaren motor home, flanked by F1 boss Ross Brawn.

The big rumor is that a deal has effectively been done between Renault and McLaren for 2018.

"I have just come from the engineers meeting so now I will try to find out a little about what has happened," Fernando Alonso is quoted by Spain's Marca newspaper at Monza.

McLaren is now under intense pressure to make a decision about splitting with Honda or not.

That is because Toro Rosso could inherit the Honda deal, in order to keep the manufacturer in F1 — something Liberty's Brawn is pushing hard for.

The Toro Rosso-Honda deal would then free up the customer Renault engine deal for McLaren.

"We need to decide in September — probably the beginning of the month," admitted McLaren executive Zak Brown.

However, Toro Rosso's deadline could be even more urgent with that, amid reports the Red Bull junior team wants to know its engine plans by 6pm on Sunday.

"I think everyone's under time pressure," Brown responded.

"As McLaren we don't need to make any decisions this weekend, but I cannot talk about the situation at Toro Rosso."

Honda is said to contribute $100 million a year to McLaren, but after three years of struggling Brown said the team's decision will be taken on "sporting" grounds.

But Brown is also not ruling out staying with the Japanese company.

"Honda is putting in additional resources and doing various other things that I can't tell you about. But I believe you're aware that they've taken on the help of a number of consultants.

"Next week we will get together and examine Honda's plans and after that we will decide," the American added.

The outcome of that will also affect Alonso's decision, with Brown admitting McLaren is working on a "plan B and plan C" in the event that he leaves.

However, he said impressive younger Lando Norris is not one of those options.

"No, our plan is to let him drive Formula 2 next year," said Brown.

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