There is a great deal of silly and irrelevant chatter at the moment about the McLaren-Honda alliance. Obviously, things are not where the team would like them to be, but no doubt Honda engineers are working around the clock to fix the problems with the power unit.
One does not need to be a Rhodes Scholar to see that Honda underestimated the job required, or perhaps went down a path that was later deemed a bad idea and it has been playing catch-up ever since. The law of diminishing returns means that given time the manufacturers will all end up at the same sort of level of performance, at which point Honda’s philosophy of doing things its own way will pay off because you never get ahead by copying, only by finding different solutions.
There is no guarantee that this will lead to Honda domination in F1, but those who underestimate the intellect and resources that Honda has are unwise. Of course there is frustration about the current situation, but the “win together, lose together” approach is way more intelligent – and graceful – than Red Bull’s public flogging of Renault, which appears rather rude after the French company helped the team to four consecutive World Championships. I guess that if one is looking for gracious behaviour one days not hire Helmut Marko. If Red Bull ends up without an engine partner it has only itself to blame.
McLaren is quite right to argue that a team without manufacturer backing is not going to win the title – being a customer is always just a stepping stone. Those who hark back to “the good old days” of Cosworth are living in the past. F1 is now too big and too valuable a communication tool to have specialist engine companies beating manufacturers. That time has gone.
Honda is a good choice for McLaren, given the Japanese firm’s history in the sport and the mentality at Honda. It would be good to see more manufacturers coming in and teaming up with the likes of Williams and Lotus, but that is unlikely to happen until there are some new attitudes on the sport. However that should not stop teams going and banging on the doors at Ford, GM, Toyota, Hyundai, Peugeot or Porsche and arguing the case of F1. It is not an easy sell, but if you don’t try, you don’t have the chance to fail.
We all know that the sport itself needs some changes – and we know also that they will come – and having more manufacturers will only help that happen. McLaren went out and sold Honda on a deal – and that is what the other teams shoul do.