McLaren F1 leadership fed up after 'predictable' double retirement in Italy
McLaren executive director Zak Brown expects to make an announcement on their 2018 power unit supplier next week following a ‘predictable’ double retirement from the Italian Grand Prix.
McLaren welcomed representatives from Renault into their motorhome during the Italian Grand Prix weekend for some less than discreet meetings and Brown confirmed that he hopes to be able to make an announcement of their 2018 power unit supplier within the week – the last few details remaining to be thrashed out.
In short, he isn’t pleased with current supplier Honda.
“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,” said Brown. “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.
We don’t have alignment amongst all of the parties involved – there are a lot of parties. We want to make sure that everything is handled well with Honda and that they stay in the sport, whether that is with us or another team, then you come into the fourth engine rule and then the engine manufactures are not geared up for additional teams at this point. So, there’s a few sticking points. Everyone is trying to work together and we anticipate some decisions this week and I think that, once the main domino falls, everything else will fall into place.
When talking about the pair of retirements at Monza – an MGU-K failure for Stoffel Vandoorne and a gearbox issue for Fernando Alonso – Brown vented his frustrations at Honda, holding very little back in his criticism.
“(It was) not very exciting but that was predictable,” continued Brown. “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.
“It’s more than one problem but it’s fairly consistent. The MGU-K and MGU-H, we’ve had lots of failures there. We think we understand the lack of power in the engine so it’s not different problems all of the time but it is a few problems.We need to get more competitive and this weekend showed that we’re just not making any significant progress. How long can you wait before you’ve got upset drivers, upset partners and upset fans? Everyone is hanging in there with us but it can’t go on forever.”
With retirement in Italy being the seventh time that he has failed to see the flag in 2017, Alonso again faced questions about where his future lies – the Spaniard frequently using team-radio to vent his frustrations at the Honda power unit.
“Some of the shareholders were here today,” Alonso said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t deliver a good result so hopefully next time we can do a bit better for them. I think it is an important week for McLaren to make some decisions so hopefully we will all know something before Singapore and we can comment there. We need to keep looking at what the possibilities are for the future and make a decision (on my future) in September.”
While Alonso appears, from the outside at least, to be reluctant to remain with McLaren if Honda continue as power unit supplier for the team, Brown still seems to think that the Spaniard could be convinced to stay although, if Renault replaced the Japanese supplier, Brown feels that it is ‘very likely’ that Alonso will remain.
“I seem to have a lot of breakfasts with Fernando now and he loves the team and is as passionate as ever to drive,” continued Brown. “There’s been some reports about IndyCar and things but he wants to be in Formula 1. So, he just wants us to be in a competitive situation and I wouldn’t rule him out is things stay status quo with the stuff that we are seeing, that we’re going to further review this week, I wouldn’t say it’s a foregone conclusion, if we continue with Honda, that he doesn’t continue with us.”