Nothing personal, it’s just racing


Headline from ESPN F1 – Eric Boullier explains why McLaren won’t allow Red Bull Honda deal

I know I should be blogging about Lewis Hamilton’s victory in Austin and his subsequent third WDC, or possibly the cliff F1 is about to drive over in regards to its engine issues, and I will. But I saw this headline today and I just had to get a few words in right now.

As if McLaren did not have enough PR problems. The second most winningest team (constructors and drivers) has had a torrid year and article after article, post after post, the media and fans alike (and yours truly as well) have been pulling no punches as far the team from Woking is concerned. Some of the criticism is warranted but much of it is not. I am still a believer in McLaren and I knew better than to expect too much from the team and Honda in its first year in this very complex [brave] new world that is Formula 1.

Lets face it, no matter how efficient your chassis is, if you don’t have the horsepower you can’t bolt on the down force and with no down force you just ain’t goin’ to git anywhere son … that is just the law of racing.

McLaren knew this year would be difficult, very difficult. My guess is they did not exactly anticipate the level of difficult, but more to the point, they did not plan on all the negative press they were going to receive either. I can only imagine how many extra hours the team has worked this year on making things right only to read in the press how they have lost their way and are relegated to a footnote.

For that matter, I can only imagine the suffering someone like Ron Dennis has gone through up to this point watching his once mighty team languish, first out of the top five, then out of the top ten and finally as a backmarker. But there is a method to his madness and this is the price he is willing to pay so that someday in the future he will have a superior engine that no other team has access to. As Ron Dennis and Eric Bouiller have now both pointed out, in order to win a championship, you need to be the racing the engine that you build yourself i.e. Ferrari, or Mercedes, therefore ensuring it is the absolute best spec there is. And if you are not a works team, then you have to ensure you are getting the top spec engine from a manufacturer i.e. Honda or Renault.

Red Bull had that situation with Renault but decided to jettison it. Whose fault is that? McLaren had a works partner in Mercedes, but Mercedes decided to run their own works team, so Ron Dennis had to make a move to ensure that he could win championships, because he is not interested in second best. He went out and found a new engine partner with the sole purpose of benefiting from running the best spec version of their engine. Someday. And he is literally putting in the blood, sweat, and tears and putting up with the DNFs, poor press, and driver crankiness that goes along with starting anew in Formula One.

So you can see, after all this team has gone through, why it would get McLaren’s goat if a deal between Honda and Red Bull was allowed to go through. Look, Ferrari does not want to give Red Bull an engine, and neither does Mercedes, so why would anyone expect McLaren to green-light a Honda deal?

Of course Red Bull should not be able to enjoy the fruits of McLaren’s labor. McLaren, as Eric Boullier stated, was the team that brought Honda back into F1 and McLaren should be the team that enjoys whatever success there is to come next year or the next year, or the years after. That is what it means to have a works partner on board. Period.

I am sure that as soon as McLaren sorts out its issues and gets back on the top step (because it will happen eventually – just the timing is in question) there will be an opportunity for Honda, with Ron’s blessing, to supply other teams, perhaps a mid-fielder or a new entry (F1 still has a spot open for anyone who can pony up 100 million and prove it can make the grid come March), or both.

But Red Bull getting a Honda engine? Not. Going. To. Happen. That is just racing.


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The Captain

“Of course Red Bull should not be able to enjoy the fruits of McLaren’s labor”

Just to play a bit of devils advocate here, why not? I mean isn’t that the entire philosophy behind the new HASS-F1 team?

Johnpierre Rivera

@The Captain
Well it is in regards that Ferrari will have a B-Team similar to what Red Bull has in Torro Rosso. The benefit being driver development and engine testing. But I feel quite confident that Ferrari is only involved in this partnership because Haas will be many cars behind them on the grid, which is why they are happy to supply Haas with a PU but not Red Bull.

Patrick Chapman

As far as I remember, at the outset when this deal was announced, Honda were given permission by the FIA to supply exclusively Mclaren for only one year. Thereafter, Honda had to fall in line with the existing rule that an engine manufacturer has to supply three teams if they get orders from teams for their PU’s. I have not read or heard of a change to this rule so I don’t understand how Ron could be allowed a veto on RBR buying Honda engines. If any other poster has more/better information on this point, I would be very interested… Read more »

Andreas Möller

Where is this rule? The only thing I see in the regulations on the number of teams that can (or must) be supplied is a passage in article 13.3 of the Sporting Regulations, which reads: “A major car manufacturer may not directly or indirectly supply engines for more than three teams of two cars each without the consent of the FIA.” I can’t find anything that would force a manufacturer to supply x number of teams, only limitations to avoid one manufacturer powering the entire field. But I’ve been wrong before, so if you’ve seen it, I’d be happy to… Read more »

Tom Firth

Good afternoon. Honda in 2013, when the announcement came, had a commercial contract with Mclaren to supply engines exclusively. That first year would of been 2014, which became 2015. Now, the reason this was possible was because Andreas is right, that in the sporting regs, it does not state a minimum number of teams in which a manufacturer must supply. From the moment the deal was announced, it was somewhat contentious with others teams including Williams said at the time to be looking at the legality of the Mclaren exclusive deal for what was then, 2014. Now the other portion… Read more »

Johnpierre Rivera

Great info Tom….


I would particularly enjoy seeing RBR get a contract with Honda. It would pose an entirely different approach to their traditional high-downforce chassis. It would highlight the differences between McLaren and RBR to bring it down to driver and chassis quality. Then we could see how much of the former’s failure is down to Honda and how much blame they need to accept themselves. With RBR going for an obviously inferior PU, it really shows how desperate they are to break it off with their long-time girlfriend.

Johnpierre Rivera

Good point about chassis vs. the PU, but there has been very little reported about McLaren’s chassis being an issue this year, so I feel McLaren’s problem really revolves around Honda not being able to track test and develop its engine package in a way that would have ensured they were not at such a deficit. That being said my point was more about what the likes of Ron Dennis or Toto Wolff are willing to do in the way helping out Red Bull. Which in this case is nill. Another way to look at it is this: Would you… Read more »