Skip to main content

F1: McLaren Needs Honda More Than It Needs Alonso

honda_mcLaren_10

I spent the last week in Melbourne enjoying the start of a new era in F1. In amongst the excitement of Mercedes being beaten (mostly on merit) and the better looking, faster and more racy cars,one of the things that becomes immediately apparent: McLaren is in trouble.

The company has struggled to find a title sponsor (not something new admittedly) and its performance has been relatively poor. Reliability, speed, consistency. All things missing from the current McLaren-Honda package.

Fernando Alonso has been particularly outspoken on the topic. His comments have strongly hinted that if the performance issue isn’t fixed he will leave, either the team or the sport.

McLaren have also been rumoured to have been in touch with Mercedes about a customer engine option, an opportunity presented thanks to a break clause in the contract with Honda.

To abandon Honda would be madness. Acceptance of a customer Mercedes engine would put McLaren in the pack with Williams and Force India with no hope of ever progressing forward. That’s without considering the substantial financial accommodation McLaren has with Honda. If the rumours are true the team would need to find an extra $100m a year to make up that shortfall.

Losing Honda would be terminal. Losing Alonso a minor inconvenience. In fact McLaren missed a golden opportunity to fix its Honda woes at the end of last season. When Mercedes came knocking looking for a replacement for Nico Rosberg, McLaren should have snatched their hand off, released Alonso and ended Jensen Button’s sabbatical.

Alonso may be marginally faster than the Brit, however at best he’s worth one place on the grid. By releasing him they would have removed most of the criticism of the team and Honda (most of which originates in the Alonso camp) and continued to develop their package quietly in the background.

Honda may have objected, but to have one of the company’s largest salary recipients continually talking down the performance of its highest profile product cannot be healthy.

In 1983, when Honda re-entered F1 it partnered with former F2 team Spirit. Its low profile entry gradually becoming competitive before the company expanded its operations to include Williams, then Lotus and finally the creation of the all conquering McLaren Honda partnership.

That’s a model the company would do well to adopt. Let Alonso leave. Most people in the sport would like to see him in a different team. Yes, the Mercedes window is closed for this season, but Bottas is on a one year contract so that’s likely to open again.

Eric Boullier and the rest of the McLaren management need to show some spine and stand up for their partners at this difficult time. That means stopping its lead driver from continually bad-mouthing Honda’s engine. I’m not sure what Alonso’s contract says about bringing the company into disrepute, but it’s certainly time to put the Spaniard on his final warning.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

F1: Robert Kubica Impresses In Renault Test Run

The car may be old but its the performance of the driver that's the story here. Robert Kubica returned to F1, after a fashion, earlier this week with an extensive test run in a 2012 Lotus Renault F1 car at Valencia.
The age of the car and the circuit were likely determined by F1's current rules which ban testing, but the reason for Kubica being in the car is far more interesting. Considered by many to be a potential World Champion and certainly one of the fastest drivers of his generation, Kubica's F1 career seemed to be over after a 2011 crash whilst driving in the Rally of Andora. His Skoda Fabia was penetrated by a guardrail in the high speed accident partially severing his right arm.
Up until last year Kubica has been competing in rallying, with the expectation that the limited movement in his repaired arm would prohibit a return to single seater racing.
So this week's test is both interesting and confusing. Interesting because Kubica completed 115 laps of the ret…

Panos Panay's Defence Of Microsoft Surface Hardware Sounds Eerily Familiar

This weekend I went out with my ten year old daughter to select a laptop for her school year beginning in January. The schools requirements are quite specific, requiring a Windows 10 device, with a preference for a touchscreen and a stylus. She chose a Surface Pro, after trying a large number of different options. Having seen the way I use my own Surface Pro - and tried it herself there was only ever going to be two options - and the other was a Surface Laptop.
I tell you this so that you understand I am a buyer of Microsoft's products through choice, not compulsion. I'm on my third Surface device now. 
So when Panos Panay dismissed reports of the death of the Surface hardware line, I was very interested to see exactly how strong these denials were. Especially how they reflect what has gone before. To whit: Windows 10 Mobile.
Panay claimed that Microsoft is in hardware for the long haul. Almost exactly mirroring the words of Terry Myerson, when he claimed Windows Mobile was g…

WhartonBrooks Indiegogo Windows 10 Mobile Even More Doomed To Failure Than Usual

WhartonBrooks is currently crowd-funding its latest Windows Mobile smartphone on Indiegogo. If crowdfunding isn't already a bad enough idea, a company trying to crowdfund a Windows Mobile device should be warning enough for you.
Not that anyone seems to be taking the project too seriously. With a few weeks left to run the campaign has managed to ensnare just 2% of its $1.1m target.
If you want a better indication of how few Window Mobile loyalists remain I doubt there is one. Of 3,900 Windows Phone enthusiasts Wharton Brooks was seeking for its new phone, it has managed to entice just 50.
Windows for Phones is dead, even if the corpse hasn't stopped twitching yet.