McLaren boss Zak Brown has compared the Honda’s Formula 1 debacle to the difficulties Jaguar Racing faced during its failed F1 programme. After 3 fruitless years McLaren has split with Honda for the 2018 F1 season. Many accused Honda of being too insular during its partnership with McLaren. They said that Honda were slow to embrace the existing F1 experience to accelerate the engine’s development.
Brown said that there were “a lot of little reasons” Honda didn’t click with McLaren. He focused on the F1 culture that Honda struggled to accept. The McLaren CEO highlighted the similarity to Jaguar’s F1 stint. He said that the British giant focused on overseeing its operation from the United States.
Brown continued, “Eric [Boullier, McLaren racing director] spoke earlier in the year about how there’s a certain way you have to operate in Formula 1 – a Formula 1 culture, and I think that’s something they [Honda] now recognise. You kind of saw the same thing with Jaguar, when they came in. They kind of did it the corporate way. If you look at Mercedes, they’re not based in Germany – the race team’s in England, the engine facility is in England; Renault is split between England and France. I think maybe some more Formula 1 experience, direct experience, is probably what they [Honda] were lacking most.
According to him, it wasn’t the lack of effort or resources. He said that they had great facilities and he was sure that they will get it right. It’s more a ways of working. He believes that they will get there, but three years was long enough. Brown said McLaren has “a lot of confidence” in new engine partner Renault. This was despite the persistent reliability problems that afflicted its engine last season.
“They’ve got the power,” Brown said. “They’ve got some reliability issues when they turn the power up. Mexico was a setting issue, but Max [Verstappen] did win the race in pretty dominant fashion, so they’ve got a fast engine. I actually think the top three [engines] are pretty close, and have all won races last year, so there’s clearly not that big of a deficit between those three.”
“We have some areas we can improve, we’re not perfect, but the lack of power was the single biggest area of weakness, so I think when we get the Renault in the back we should see a substantial difference in Australia. We’re happy with our working relationship with Renault, and we should hopefully get back to where people are used to seeing McLaren at the front of the field.”
Jaguar have returned to open-wheel racing, albeit with Formula E.