McLaren believes it is inevitable for its relationship with Mercedes to tail-off next season, which will mark the end of their partnership
The German manufacturer and the British team joined forces for the start of the 1995 season, and the relationship has produced a total of 78 grand prix victories.
McLaren announced earlier this month that it will switch to Honda engines from 2015, reuniting with the Japanese car maker, which supplied power units to the team during its most successful era from 1988 to 1992.
McLaren sporting director Sam Michael reckons that, despite the long relationship with Mercedes, the team will feel the effects of the partnership coming to an end in 2014.
"There's no doubt that when you finish a relationship, whether it's with an engine partner or with anyone else, that part of the relationship is not as productive as the start of it, or probably the middle," Michael told AUTOSPORT.
"But it's been a very long one. Mercedes knows us very well and we know the people there.
"Obviously it wasn't a huge surprise for Mercedes because we are close to them. They've been aware that this possibility could eventuate."
Honda left Formula 1 at the end of 2008 after shutting down its works team, and although McLaren believes the deal is a bedrock for success, Michael concedes it is very difficult to make predictions about how competitive the duo will be in its first season together.
"I don't know. It's still too early to predict where we'll be," added Michael.
"We'll definitely be under-promising and try to over-deliver. You know us."
Michael also ruled out the possibility of Honda getting a McLaren car early for testing purposes, as the regulations will not allow it.
"The testing regulations cover last year's and next year's car, so McLaren as a team could not give them a 2014 chassis for them to run with," he said.
"We couldn't give them the 2013 chassis either to run in 2014. That's in the sporting code."
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