McLaren: No regrets over 'expensive' Honda F1 engine split

McLaren's chairman insists the team was correct to split with Honda, even though the 'expensive' call did not produce an uplift in it Formula 1 form

McLaren: No regrets over 'expensive' Honda F1 engine split

Following three difficult years with the Honda McLaren opted to become a Renault customer for 2018.

The decision is believed to have cost McLaren as much as a net $100 million. This was thanks to it losing Honda's free engines and financial contribution, plus having to pay for Renault's power units.

The move also exposed weaknesses within the McLaren organisation as the MCL33 under-delivered, which led to a management reshuffle.

But despite the extra cost, and the fact that Honda's progress in 2018 convinced Red Bull to take its engines for '19, McLaren chairman Sheikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa says there are no regrets about what happened.

"On the one hand [we are] frustrated, on the other we are committed to this," said Sheikh Mohammed.

"The way we were heading [meant] a change was bound to come.

"Tremendous respect to Honda, but the relationship wasn't working so we had a civilised discussion and we decided to part ways.

"It was an expensive decision for us but it was in the long-term interest of the company. So, we don't regret the decision."

After McLaren's difficult 2018, Sheikh Mohammed says he has taken a closer interest in the team's activities.

"I am more involved in the details and understanding," he said.

"I'm a racer, so I enjoy the number crunching bits - points of downforce, or suspension heave, or whatever" Sheikh Mohammed explained that he understands there is no quick fix to McLaren's problems, and is patient to see the matter through.

"I've been in the paddock F1 since 2000 and we've been owners since 2007, and people say: you should change or do this," he said.

"But I've been here long enough to realise that shooting from the hip isn't the solution. It is a gradual step of informed decisions of how to fix things and we've tried to do that.

"Management's role is to manage the team. We are here to provide the resources and that is what I've kept pushing for. Tell me what you need and we have agreed to support them.

"We will see this through. It is so frustrating because we are all racers at heart, but you just have to power through."

McLaren CEO Zak Brown thinks the team is helped by Sheikh Mohammed having a closer involvement.

"CEOs have different styles," explained Brown. "My style is I want to be very engaged with my chairman - [you] don't surprise your chairman.

"[The Bahrainis] have such a long history in the sport that I value their input and want their input and influence. It is very much a great working relationship.

"There are some CEOs who think 'I've got the ball let me just run with it', but that has not been my style.

"There are a lot of areas where Sheikh Mohammed helps and I asked for him to get involved to use his influence or seek his influence."

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Series Formula 1
Teams Honda Racing F1 Team , McLaren
Author Jonathan Noble
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