We’ve been writing about for the better part of two weeks now and it’s now official from Renault, Honda, McLaren, Toro Rosso and Carlos Sainz. Honda goes to Toro Rosso, Sainz goes to Renault and Renault go to McLaren.
The one thing that I’m interested in is if this was the master stroke to keep Fernando Alonso at McLaren—although I’ve argued I’m not sure that’s the most compelling reason to jettison your engine partner—and according to a report from Autosport, Alonso now wants to have words with Renault to see what performance gains they think they’ll have in 2018 presumably prior to making his decision to stay at McLaren.
“I don’t have data about what Renault expects and the improvements it has planned for next year,” said Alonso.
“So after this race I’ll try to find out and get in touch with them to know more about their plans and from there make a decision.
“You never know if it’s the good move or the bad move for the team, but if McLaren thought that it was time to split with Honda and go for Renault is because they have good information about next year.
“Hopefully that puts McLaren again in the places that all feel McLaren belongs, which is fighting for podiums and championships.”
That’s all well and good but here’s the thing I will be watching closely. McLaren will need to hit the ground running as competitive as Red Bull in 2018 or we’ll all see that the Honda engine wasn’t the only issue the team has had over the last three seasons.
I don’t’ have any reason to doubt they will be because I do think the folks in Woking make a great car but how great? That’s probably what Alonso wants to chat about with both Renault and McLaren. He knows how the chassis feels and with assurances of power unit performance gain, he’ll be trying to extrapolate what he feels with be the legitimate pace of the car against the sharper end of the grid.
As of now, Renault are a known entity. Arguably one of the best chassis builders in F1, Red Bull’s Adrian Newey, cannot get their cars fighting with Mercedes and Ferrari and neither can the works Renault team. So can McLaren with a known power deficit? Can they even take the battle to the works Renault team or Red Bull? That will be the big question for 2018.
Hat Tip: Autosport