Speculation is running rife at the minute regarding McLaren’s engine supplier. It seems some news outlets are slightly confused as to what the team’s contractual situation is. From what I understand, McLaren have a definite contract with Mercedes up to and including the 2014 season when the new turbo engines will be introduced. McLaren also have two options, for 2015 ad 2016 to extend this arrangement. Some outlets have been reporting Mclaren’s contract with Mercedes is until 2016, but this is only the case if McLaren choose to extend, they are under no obligation to do so.
As a result, so enters Honda into the frame. McLaren’s previous relationship with the Japanese engine supplier was prolific, winning four drivers and constructors championships between 1988-1992, including all 3 of Ayrton Senna’s titles.
This could be a very sly move by McLaren. Rumour has it that since the MP4-12c road car was introduced, the relationship between the team and Mercedes was strained. A fresh start may be beneficial to the team, who apparently may be Honda’s only customer in 2015 thus getting their undivided attention (though it is likely Honda will attempt to sign further customers to justify their involvement in the sport). Historically with a change in engine regulations, Mercedes have taken a few seasons to adapt (including 2006, the introduction of the V8 unit and McLaren’s disastrous season). Can a team of McLaren’s calibre afford further seasons without a Championship? Of course not and thus you can see why they will take a punt on their former partner. It must be said that this is no statement of belief that Honda will come into the sport with the best engine, but with a year to look at Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault’s efforts and an extra year of development, their odds are not exactly shortened.
This speculation is only good for the sport, the more engine partners F1 can attract the healthier it will become, whilst also advancing research into road car efficiency. Long may it continue!