Let’s be sensible about Honda

Could McLaren switch to Mercedes engines in 2017? There is an awful lot of noise in the media in the last few hours that this could happen, based on some supposed conversations between McLaren and Mercedes. There are lots of elements to be addressed in this story but my sense is that it just will not happen. McLaren has lain down with Honda and it will have to stay with the Japanese firm until the end of the season – at least.

The rules state that “a competitor may change the make of engine at any time during the championship” but this fails to look at the contractual, practical and political elements involved.

The contracts between McLaren and Honda are worth a fortune to McLaren. Not only are the engines free, but Honda also pays a fairly massive amount in sponsorship, so much so that the team does not seem to need many other sponsorships. If the contract is broken, the team will need to find the money from somewhere else (and we’re talking hundreds of millions here), not to mention potential damages if a divorce is against Honda’s will because such a move would damage Honda’s reputation.

In practical terms, there are also huge problems. Cars are designed with a specific engine in mind and trying to slot in a different one may not even be possible without a substantial redesign of the rear end of the car – and a lot of compromises. Yes, you can say that Brawn GP slotted in a Mercedes in 2009 and won the World Championship, but this was very specifically due to the double diffuser and without that things would have been very different. Switching engines in the midseason would set the team back significantly because rather than working to catch up, it would be working to get to the starting point as the other teams accelerate away in the course of the season. Mercedes did provide a fourth engine supply last year (to Manor), but is it still geared up to provide four? It has been clear since December that Manor was not going anywhere, and owed Mercedes money and so it is doubtful that the programme was continued. The worst case scenario is that McLaren could finish 10th this year. With only 10 teams competing the team is therefore guaranteed money from both of the main prize funds, whether it is sixth or 10th. The difference between sixth and 10th is reckoned to be around $13 million, and the team would have to spend a great deal more than that to switch engines. So it would not be worth it. It is better to keep trying with Honda and see what comes of it. If things are still bad six races into the season then perhaps it is time to discuss an end-of-season divorce.

The political questions are also important. One has to ask whether returning to being a Mercedes customer is the right thing for McLaren to do. Accepting the status of a customer team would effectively end any real chance the team has of winning any races in the short- to mid- term. The designers in factory teams collaborate and the engine designers produce what the chassis engineers want. They do not do this with customer teams, so the customers are always at a disadvantage.

Since the new 1.6-litre V6 Formula 1 engine rules began we have seen Mercedes win 51 of the 59 Grands Prix. Its customers have won 0 victories. Even when the Mercedes team has messed up, others have beaten the customer Mercedes teams.

It is also a question of status. McLaren is a successful road car company that thrives on partnership status with its suppliers. Being a mere customer, even in an emergency, is not something that the company will want to do. Similarly, Mercedes will not want to be seen to be taking McLaren away from Honda, effectively pushing Honda out of F1. That would not be good for the folk in Stuttgart.

Those who have visited Honda’s F1 facilities in Japan say that they are mind-blowing, in terms of the technology available, but for reasons that are not clear this is not translating into engine performance on the track. Yes, in testing the Hondas were 20mph slower on the straights than their rivals, which sounds dramatic, but look at that in percentage terms and it doesn’t sound anywhere near as bad. At the launch of the new car, Yusuke Hasegawa said that the company had had a busy winter as a result of the removal of the token system in F1, which allows for much more rapid engine development.

“That meant we could implement every idea for the engine, which was restricted in previous years,” Hasegawa explained. “Obviously the car was changing dramatically, so we wanted to redesign our engine to fit the car and behave with the car much better. So we have modified our engine with a much lower centre of gravity and lighter weight. However, it means we have a great challenge for the development. We are not making any promises for this season, but our aim is to make the progress and catch up the frontrunners so that we keep pushing to make more progress.”

Hasegawa said that the engine was 90 percent new and felt it was not going to be too far behind the Mercedes.

“I think we will catch up with them at the beginning of the season,” he said.

Mr Hasegawa is not a fool and he said what he said for a reason. He had data to back up his statements. He wasn’t making it up as he went along.

In testing, however, things did not go well and from what I hear the problems relate to vibrations which are shaking the engine badly and affecting the electronic and electrical systems, causing a number of failures and power losses. What we do not know is whether there have been any structural problems with the ICE, or whether the problems have been largely with the vibration of the hybrid peripherals. It is, to some extent, logical, for the engines to be lacking horsepower because if Honda cannot run them at full tilt because of the vibration they will have turned them down, in an effort to give the team much-needed mileage. They did not achieve as much as they wanted to achieve, but they still managed 1,200 miles, despite the technical dramas.

So the big question is not whether the team is going to leap into the water and swim for Mercedes, but how long the ship can stay afloat, giving Honda time to fix the problems. Once the vibration is under control, Mr Hasegawa’s data may be able to kick in. You can be sure that the people at Honda in Japan are not going to be sitting on their thumbs right now. Honda has had a pretty poor record in F1 in its last two attempts and some argue that this is because it tends to work in its own way and not bring in outside experts, although I am quite sure that in the course of the last two years, the company has been quietly using consultants to try to find solutions. If they have not been doing that, then they deserve little sympathy because you cannot hope to compete with the best in the world when only looking at the problem with Japanese engineers.

Public criticism of Honda by McLaren is not really going to help, except that it may worry the Japanese sufficiently to accept that things must be done differently. McLaren people know this as well. However, it is a dangerous game because while the Japanese are generally polite and gracious they can become less so when their partners don’t say the right things. As Red Bull has found out in the last couple of seasons, it is best to adopt the “we win together and lose together” approach, rather than ripping into an engine supplier who is not delivering the goods.

Better an engine that is down-on-power than no engine at all…

197 thoughts on “Let’s be sensible about Honda

  1. There is a really good documentary on Marc Marquez on BT Sport at the moment. It goes behind the scenes with the team (Honda) and really shows the massive differences in cultures between the Japanese and Europeans. Factory visits and ‘thank you’ tours at the end of the season also include Alonso et al, looking equally bemused. I wonder how much gets lost in communication, even a simple nod of the head doesn’t mean yes, it means they have heard you and are listening. Recommended.

    1. Having worked for a Japanese company I can verify that there are many differences in basic understanding of events situations and protocol. This becomes clear when with customers and acting as “semi-translator” between Japanese American and English.

    2. Dan is correct this is all about culture and the way the respective companies work. McLaren recruits new young engineers and then tries to keep them with a stable of experienced engineers. Sure there is turnover from demands on the road, but a core stay for long periods in F1.

      Honda has many young engineers on short term periods away from the car factory. And there is your problem. Honda needs more specialist engineers whose primary focus and lifetime goal it is to win in F1 and build the very best engine. Same as McLaren, same as any F1 team. When you know you are not staying why excel, why innovate, why commit? My guess is THAT is what McLaren and Alonso want to see change. Quit using it as a training workshop and experience and make it a profession, a passion and a vocation.

      Japanese and English cultures are different, but that is not as big an issue as the way the program is run and staffed. The girl you met on vacation is cool and fun, but it means little if you don’t commit to the relationship long term. When Honda quit F1 it sent a message. The message is we don’t really care. We might be in, we might be out. Everyone at McLaren knows that they are in F1 period. At McLaren the staff think I will survive here if I do my very best. At Honda, you do OK and worry about a factory job, that is the best chance for the long-term. Honda can turn this around by making it VERY clear they are in, long term and hiring and keeping in place the best talent.

      Now with that said, all vibrations can be found and the issue resolved. The question is one of time, resources and the complexity of the problem. Is it fundamental to the design or is it something over looked and relatively easily corrected. I would not bet against Honda, now humbled, to turn this around. McLaren should stick with this and put pressure on Honda to change internally.

  2. This is somewhat reminiscent of the rift between Red Bull and Renault some months ago…which was then followed by Red Bull beating Ferrari in the 2016 Championship and switching its B team Toro Rosso back to Renault for 2017 as well. I wonder where all this noise is coming from, but it is really not helping anybody out there.

    1. Agreed. The partnership is only 2 seasons old and Honda had to work under the token system which didn’t help. The team have been making steady progress in spite of that and I think the current problem is just an unforeseen glitch. there is a lot of nonsense being said and I am surprised at some of the people putting the boot in because they should know better. I completely agree with Joe’s article and I expect that the team will have a much better season in 2017 even if Honda has to use the first couple of races to fix problems. Honda are learning and improving all the time and I expect them to be competitive with the front runners sooner rather than later.

      1. The logic of Joe’s and your comments make perfect sense. The fact that EB has told the media they would have a winning car with a Mercedes engine together with news “leaking” out that McLaren had actually contacted Mercedes indicates that the strength of the partnership is as dire as RB and Renault’s was at the end of 2015.

        McLaren have just 4 engines for the season. Another humiliating performance in Oz would probably be the cue for somebody to fall on their sword. Honda are in F1 to create a positive image for the company and sell more Civics on the back of it.

        The tokens may have gone, but the penalties for engine failures are now more severe. Right now, I guess Alonso would be happy to switch to a GP2 engine, if it could at least finish the race, without further humiliation.

      2. Honda dramatically changed the fundamental architecture of the engine last year. Thus any ‘steady progress’ went out of the window. So what we have is ‘big bang’ if you’ll excuse the pun. Under Ron, McLaren would have prevented a united public face whilst wielding a stick in private. Signs are that ‘new’ McLaren might do things differently. There was a bit of a PR gaff the other day as McLaren presented a car created from the best of the cars of their past. The engine cover section showed Mercedes branding. Makes me wonder whether Bish is still involved?

      3. I realise that testing is restricted but surely if they can run engines on a bench then they could easily of mounted them in the back of mule vans and drove them around a test track. There are too many glitches indicating a serious lack of preparation. I’m not always a fan of heads must roll, but improvements in reliability after 3 years must surely be warranted. I applaud Honda’s desire to work in house, but it seems that the brightest engineers are no longer employed by NASA and are in F1. Maybe the real question is are the cars too complicated.
        When the turbo era was reborn i was actually quite excited about being able to hear the tyres squeal and relating it to the cars attitude on track. Being able to visualise how the driver was reacting, however the tyres were pathetic and driver’s would have to hold back. Talk about shooting yourself in both feet!
        Then to compound this voldemort (BE) was hell bent on cozying up to the world’s dictators whilst selling TV rights to the highest bidders destroying fan base. As a fan you invest emotionally during a season so that when your home GP comes along the thought of spending £800-1000 for a weekend seems good value. Marginalising F1 onto pay per view TV will be a slow and painful death. German fans are not leaving in their drives because vettel is not winning, because with MB they have a team to be proud of. F1 should be cutting edge, not too complicated only the few can understand it. Honda cannot produce a car engine to win a go because they have fallen so far behind in the space race they are basically North Korea!

  3. Thank you Joe for once again giving the common sense answer!
    This link will be getting shared a lot as I’m tired of typing arguments with mentalists on Facebook! 😀

  4. Thanks for clearing that up Joe.
    Though nobody really knows what will happen if this season is a dud for Mclaren Honda and Alonso.
    Even the Red Bull and Renault situation was precariously balanced on a razor blade. Slowly the tide changed, its now getting back to a mutual professional relationship after a lot of mud slinging. Red Bull did make an approach to Mercedes when things were going south.
    Assuming Honda does a miracle turnover then it’s all cool and cosy. But if it goes ‘udders up’
    then the “we loose together” may get acidic as Zak et al cope with the Alonso radio messages regarding “amateur hours” & the media onslaught.
    I hope they get there act together as Mclaren deserve to back at the top end of F1.

  5. It’s a shame when you consider the former incarnation of McLaren-Honda: I seem to remember Honda turning up with multiple engine configurations in testing and at races. It’d be nice if they could be given greater engine freedom to get up to speed again – e.g. without the shackles of long-life engines.
    I mean surely the cost of making engines bomb-proof approaches the amount required to come up with new designs that bring more power.
    From a fan’s point of view it would be more interesting to see a Honda go like stink and break down after 40 laps than have one do 70 laps at 2/3 of the speed (and still break down occasionally).
    Would there be mileage and interest in freeing up the engine restrictions to create a more competitive field (I think I know the answer already)? Or is it reasonable to assume that Honda cannot build engines that are as quick as Mercedes (or Ferrari, or Renault…)

  6. Great piece! Although i find it really hard to believe, that a manufacturer as Honda, cannot make a decent engine. Especially when you think it’s there 3th year!

      1. everybody and his dog was saying the same things about Renault in 2014/15, when their first fundamental (structural problems) out of the box were discovered, and it became known that their very first problem needed 20 weeks to fix, the only difference which seems not satisfying these nay sayers is the team concerned is not really copying the red bullies vis a vis their engine suppliers. When Honda will finally get a handle on their problems, Honda will be right up there with the other three.

        1. / about Renault in 2014/15/

          Everyone forgets that Renault-powered cars were only to beat Mercedes in 2014, leaving all Mercedes’ clients and Ferrari-powered cars behind.
          It was 2015 engine that became mess because of bad cooperation between Renault and RB.

        2. In 1991, upon his return from a winter break, Ayrton Senna stepped into the Mclaren and declared the progress made by Honda as insufficient.

          He pointed out the engines shortcomings and guided the engineers to sort them out. Significantly, he knew already that Renault was closing in on the Honda performance.

          Senna won the first four races of 1991 which ironically suggested otherwise, yet by years end Williams and Renault were outperforming Woking.

          By 1992, the chassis and engine combo from Didcot wiped the floor and at the end of 1992 Honda withdrew.

          Ever since, in whatever guise Honda has competed in F1, either as Honda or Mugen, chassis or engine supplier, their efforts have been underwhelming.

          I have no doubt they could build a competitive engine now which could win races but Honda biggest advantage from the 80’s no longer exists.

          The arrogance of the European engine builders was annihilated by Honda technology and their willingness to out spend the others. F1 grew up from a cottage industry to a battleground for manufacturers.

    1. My concern is that this is actually they’re 4th year. The deal was announced over a year before the first McLaren/Honda raced. It’s staggering that there appeared to be so little progress during that 1st year when effectively they weren’t governed by any testing rules. They should have had an amazing advantage, instead started racing at the back of the pack.

  7. I agree with all of this. The only other thing to consider is are Honda thinking of quitting and thus Mercedes are looking for a back up plan.

    I always felt RD was 100% correct to move to Honda. Maybe though they should consider (in the background) trying to woo the VW group.

  8. Could Mclaren also be planning to switch to Honda engines in their road cars? Perhaps they planned to capitalize on M and H F1 for marketing purposes?

    I’ve never driven one, and likely never will, but they seem to be brilliant cars with great engines, lacking only the cache an F1 championship winning engine would bring.

  9. > From what I hear the problems relate to vibrations which are shaking the engine badly and affecting the electronic and electrical systems, causing a number of failures and power losses

    This rings a bell… didn’t something like this happen with them a good few years ago? Perhaps in the early BAR-Honda days? Or am I thinking of another team from that timeframe? Sorry to be so vague…

    1. there is a hell of a lot (mostly, if not all) chaff being pushed about, vibration being just one of about a dozen. a lot of people speaks like they just came from a visit to the Honda F1 facility in Japan, or pretends to have had a look at the internals of the Honda engine. examples are aplenty, some self appointed technical experts seems to make believe they can see right inside of the F1 PU and so assures everybody of what is being used, confusing, but a few examples of what they claim is being used right inside the engines, HCCI, and or JET combustion system, Honda using fork and blade con-rods for a shorter crank and block, Honda using hollow crankshaft, steel printed pistons, and the latest being DOUBLE ANCHORE INJECTORS.

    2. Wasn’t it BAR’s first year, with the Supertec (Renault) engine?

      And wasn’t that less to do with it being a surprise and more to do with them sacking or not listening to all the old Tyrrell hands and putting the chassis design in the hands of someone without much F1 experience? I seem to remember that after the event a number of people were essentially saying ‘I told them this would happen and no-one wanted to know’.

  10. Toyota had great facilities too. And Sauber the first (only?) full scale wind tunnel.

    Bit confused how Honda’s reluctance to use outside help maps onto the Harvey Poslethwaite Honda project?

    1. Sorry to take my Hobbyhorse out for a trot, but Sauber’s isn’t really a full scale wind tunnel.

      Haas’s Windshear tunnel in North Carolina,

      I think the only full Reynolds number tunnel owned by an F1 team owner, and that’s not used for F1.

  11. Agreed. I think McLaren would be shooting themselves in the foot divorcing from Honda at this point. The media (and as a result, the fans) are flipping out about the reliability, but as you wrote the power unit is 90% different. What did they expect to happen? Honda had exhausted all of the potential with the previous concept and so had to go to a new one. They made huge progress in the last two seasons, I’m not sure why people don’t think they won’t continue to move up.

    The contract runs to 2024. That’s a lot of free money to give up. Plus, with the removal of the token system Honda could literally redesign the engine for every single race until they get it right. Their resources are far too big for them to just fail again and again.

    I guess McLaren is worried about losing Alonso. Alonso is almost 36 and should not be the focus of the team. He should be on the phone to Mercedes about a 1 year deal where he can fight with Lewis and then ride off into the sunset.

    1. The token system is gone but the penalty system remains. Hardly conductive being forced to use multiple GP weekends as test days because you’re stuck at the back with 20-place penalties or starting from the pit lane.

      1. Better to use every race weekend as a test and make progress than worry about penalties and stay at the back of the grid and loose millions. Remember they get a few podiums late in the season they can easily jump the tail end of the grid. So there is a LOT of benefit to doing all the race testing you can. Bold strategies work if you are working to get results. Don’t put the effort into new engines it is not worth the risk. So the question is really does Honda have the pockets of sufficient depth and staff with sufficient talent to make the strategy pay off?

  12. Better an engine that is down-on-power than no engine at all – Wrong. If they want out its better Honda quits and they switch to Merc than having to actually pay Honda millions to Eff Off for being so inept and incompetent.

      1. Yes, I read it.
        If and when the Honda engined McLarens qualify dead last in Melbourne and then, to add huge insult to devastating injury, predictably break down within 10 laps, what happens next? Are they seriously going to risk doing that all season long? Also, your logic is flawed to some extent. How many races has customer engined Red Bull won in the hybrid era, and, by contrast, how many has it’s engine manufacturer Renault won?

        1. As he indicated…it would cost them too much money to quit after the first race…they can start thinking about it after the 6th race….with a new engine for 2018 if no progress is made….not before.

        2. Paul I almost feel embarrassed for you that I have to point this out, but Renault only bought lotus recently. Until then red bull was indeed the main focus of the manufacturer

          1. Thanks for pointing nothing out to me that I did not already know.
            Joe’s point was that no customer team can beat the engine manufacturer’s own team. Well, ignoring the fact they won 3 races with DR in 2014, Red Bull won 2 races last year and the manufacturer team Renault were at the back of the field. In winter testing again Red Bull was way ahead of Renault. Red Bull is a top team running a customer engine, which is what Mclaren would be with Merc, Renault or Ferrari engines. Of course bottom of the barrel teams, like Manor and financially poor teams, like Williams and Force India weren’t winning with Merc engines, though Williams did get close a couple of times.

            1. I was talking about normal situations. The Renault situation is not normal and the factory team will eventually pull ahead of the customers

              1. I concur with Joe and disagree with most of Paul’s comments. It is however worth pointing out that Red Bull got the better of Renault in 2009 (prior to any third party involvement).

            2. Unless a customer Mercedes team gets access to Petronas oils and other lubricants they are not going to be able to beat the works team.In Autocourse 2014/15 someone from McLaren estimated the Petronas product was worth 40hp in power.Given the integral role Petronas have played in engine design this seems possible.The reasons McLaren had for leaving Mercedes then are still valid now.If Force India level is what they feel they can realistically aspire to then go back to Mercedes.If they dream of something more they need a different path.

              1. Andy Cowell said that the same hardware including oil and fuel is supplied to PU CUSTOMERS. What is not being supplied the same is what the FIA rules doesn’t mandate, and that is the PU software. and that is what Ron DENNIS was talking about when he said that a customer team have no chance of winning the championship.

        3. I guess you don’t understand what it does mean to ‘change’ an engine supplier. It’s not an DFV any more.

  13. Thanks Joe, you are the Yin to to the sensationalist Yang.

    What are your thoughts on McLaren producing their ‘own’ engine, with Ricardo etc… What kind of time and money do you think that would take if starting from Honda’s existing design, assuming it’s fundamentally capable of competing this season?

    I know there’s a lot of assumptions to make there but you’re a hell of a lot more informed than most of us discussing this and we’d all love to read your opinion on the matter!

  14. Finally, a sensible article about the ‘crisis’. Without token-based restrictions, Honda will catch up soon, surely.

    1. They still cannot bring more than 4 engines into each car without consigning it to the back of the grid through component changes.

  15. Well at least with the tokens gone they can get cracking with the development without being as restricted as in previous years.

    I really want the McLonda to work but it seems they have a mountain to climb.

  16. I think you are underestimating the depth of the rift between the two companies. I don’t doubt the technical facilities Honda have at their disposal but there is something in the makeup of the Honda management team and they way they communicate to McLaren and externally that has become a big problem. I’m not saying that McLaren is blameless; Boullier should have been aware of the problems a lot sooner and made plans to push Honda back on track with external management and outside engine consultants.

    Honda’s hubris will be McLaren’s downfall.

  17. They put a picture up on their Twitter feed showing old and new by combining the current car with a Mercedes powered silver version, the engine cover just happened to be the Mercedes one!
    The picture has been mysteriously deleted :-0

  18. I agree in some part, but this doesn’t seem to just be an engine down on power. It seems to also be an engine prone to reliability issues. So it’s almost no engine at all.

  19. I believe that 20 mph speed differential is huge as the power required to overcome increased drag is a cube function of speed, e.g., to go twice as fast requires eight times the power. If the fast cars are 200mph and McL is 180 then that 11.1% increase in speed requires 37% more power. I’m assuming all other things equal which ought to be approximately correct.

      1. Money makes the cars go ’round. A race car without a sponsor is a said sight to behold. Who knows what Honda pays beyond the free motors but lack of a primary sponsor for however many years shows how rare they are. A couple years ago I worried McL without a sponsor would go the way of Williams and if this Honda partnership doesn’t work that may come to pass.

  20. May be they asked Mercedes to help with the Honda engine as they did with Ferrari a few years ago (according to the rumours).

    And Honda had an external expert helping them but he (Giles Simon) jumped ship, so may be Mario Illien can help as he did with Renault last year.

  21. Sensible perspective by Joe, as always, but somehow this situation still reminds me of the Ligier – Alfa Romeo fiasco!

  22. I am all up for a competitive McLaren Honda.

    As a counter-point to all the ‘it will work out in the end’ reasoning.

    What if it does not? At what point can McLaren start to look elsewhere?

    Just saying, but if they run their Honda contract to 2024 and end up with nothing to show from it, at what point do the people vocalising a call to break the partnership get listened to?

    We can say ‘give Honda time’ and ‘they will get there in the end’ all we want, but McLaren must have been given assurances by Honda for a competitive product. They have been let down for the last 2 years, and this years engine looks to be no better.

    Throwing as much money as they can, with all the development restrictions removed will not guarantee a performing product.

    Again, I want to see it work and would love to see a competitive McHonda again, but the higher-ups in McLaren must be looking into all possibilities at this point.

    How can they base the future of their F1 brand on an engine supplier that cannot perform? If the have the same luck as last year, will that be enough for them to court another supplier? The year after that?

    I just think that both sides Honda/McLaren could be handing the situation better. With all the bad press and the comments from the team and drivers, what are fans supposed to think? How can they support something that it appears the drivers they follow have no faith in?

    All PR I know, but a more unified from McLaren and Honda would help to downplay all the talks splitting with Honda.

    1. Merc are not going to supply an engine to enable a major rival to beat them. They might supply a similar but downtuned version. Ferrari offer last years engines often when acting as a supplier. Renault engines supplied seem to be the best customer option, though that will likely change a Renault look to giving their own team every advantage.

      If Macca want to have a chance to regain World Championship status, they are going to have to find another engine supplier from outside the current ones being used, or suck it up with Honda, who incidentally are paying a fortune for the pleasure…

      Joe, you have the patience of a saint!

  23. The majority of the public criticism of Honda seems to be coming from a single source – Alonso. He has moaned non-stop almost from the beginning of his return to McLaren, and to tell the truth he’s been a whiner who runs to the press throughout his career. I believe Ron Dennis was reluctant to employ Alonzo given their previous history, but Honda insisted he was given the seat and pays all of his salary. If so Honda must accept responsabilty for Alonso’s behaviour, as they must have known he’s got a huge ego and a massive chip on his shoulder.

    Eric Boullier must feel like a fireman, constantly having to put out the fires being caused by Alonso. We can only guess at how toxic the relationships are behind closed doors. I think it would be beyond foolish to keep Alonso beyond this year, better still let him go now. McLaren need to be looking well beyond this season or the next, and not letting a transient driver upset the cart.

    1. There are a few people in McLaren who agree with Alonso, and aren’t entirely against having a shouty Spaniard do the public aggression part of their pressure application, giving them free rein to tut and say, ‘yes, he’s very brash that Alonso, I know, but you did say you wanted a World Champion in the car in the contract and – golly – maybe you might want some outside help to make sure that brash fellow doesn’t go making any more definitely-guaranteed-100%-genuinely-off-the-cuff-criticisms again, eh?’

  24. well, i guess Honda eventually WILL get the things right. Will McL be patient for long enough? I think they better are. If they want to win once again anytime soon. And if it wasn’t for A Driver that is Alonso being there at this unfortunate stage, i think there wouldn’t be THAT much noise about all this as it is right now.

  25. If Honda were to achieve the final 10% to bring the engine up to optimum performance would this be sufficient I wonder since whilst drag is a squared function of speed, the power required to move an object having such drag is a cubed function of speed. Thus the final 20mph requires very much more power than may be expected.
    The increased drag on all cars this season will need more fuel than hitherto, but the allowance has been increased only by 5Kg.

  26. Is there any possibility that this problem it may be chassis (McLaren) related as opposed to engine (Honda)?

  27. 🙂 imagine they divorce. As Honda want to stay, Sauber convince them to team up. Following season McLaren-costuMerc and many others got beaten by Sauber-Honda 🙂

  28. Is it possible that the engine problems are a reflection of the turmoil generated during the severing of Ron Denis from McLaren? It was Mr. Denis leading McLaren during the glory days of McLaren/Honda. Also Honda was showing continuous improvement throughout the 2015 and 2016 seasons while he was in charge.

  29. The one person I feel sorry for in this whole sorry mess is Stoffel Vandoorne. He looks as promising a young driver as any that we have seen, and I include the current heart throb Maxy Boy.
    Stoffel deserved a sporting chance in a leading team, just like Max. Instead he is caught in the nets of hubris and failure that is McLaren Honda.
    I would like to have seen him in the second Mercedes.

    1. I don’t feel sorry for him. He pushed for this, well now he’s got it, and he has to deal with it. No where does it say a rookie driver must come in with a championship winning car.

      Let me tell you who is enjoying this situation…Jenson Button. Have you followed his Instagram? He’s having a lot of fun!

  30. Assuming that McLaren did actually contact Mercedes, I would put it down to no more than saber rattling. A Joe points out, there is a major downside for McLaren if they are looking to replace Honda…

  31. seems to me that a divorce at the end of the year is a possibility. As Joe says there is too much involved in making a break mid season, but a lot will depend on the first 4 races. 20KPH down on the straight may not sound much but you also have to factor in that the car has been unable to run for more than a few laps. They are said to have de-tuned for reliability but it seems the reliability is unchanged.

    If this happens in races….My concern is that this is almost an extinction level event because Zak Brown will be very hard pressed to bring in any major sponsorships while this is going on, while rival teams will be hovering over the McLaren staff roster.

    What seems to be happening though is that McLaren is ramping up the pressure in public, perhaps with the objective of getting Honda to blink first and quit the contract as they did in 2009.

  32. Though I have to admit one small things, I am very happy with the actual hardware setup changes that Honda have made. Splitting the Turbo and Compressor with a long shaft and using Pre Chamber Ignition HCCI/TJI. Ferrari and Renault have not split the Turbo and Compressor because it is so difficult to achieve with the shaft creating potentially so much vibration. Only Mercedes have achieved it. So Honda have pushed the complexity of the Power Unit to the extreme. They have also shortened the dimensions by using a cojoint crank which not even Mercedes have done. If Honda were just going with a safe and slow setup I would be concerned. But they are trying to go for maximum performance. It did take Mercedes 18 months just to get the split Turbo Compressor to work without vibrations of the long shaft being an issue. Honda are trying to achieve everything Mercedes did in a much shorter time, and they had to start from zero. I am reading the F1Technical.net forum and I think they are trying to a new setup PU working and the issues they have had are just minor issues like the Energy Store and Oil scavenge. But the media of course don’t read F1Technical.net do they? They have no understanding of the difference between a minor issue and a major issue. They just have Mclaren Honda in the garage and start their idiotic sensationalism like always. The problem with the Honda programme was that the first 3 years it was headed by Arai. Those first 3 years were more like 1 year it was such a badly managed programme by Arai. If it had been run by Hasegawa from the beginning we would have been much further ahead. We have to get Pre Chamber technology working instantly from this test whereas the other 3 were able to slowly develop it over 3 to 4 years. But Hasegawa is so brave he has put Pre Chamber technology in while ALSO trying to get the Split Turbo Compressor working instantly (which took Mercedes 18 months to get working just by itself, not while trying to get Pre Chamber technology working at the same time). He could have been conservative and just gone with Pre Chamber technology but Hasegawa is a bit like Ron Dennis, no compromise, we go for maximum theoretical performance. Okay its going to be very difficult to get both Pre Chamber and Split Turbo concepts working immediately and at the same time and the idiot clueless press are going to be jumping up and down like idiot monkeys and laughing with glee, but we are going to go for maximum theoretical performance. Prodromou will have done a top chassis aerodynamically. Having read on F1Technical.net what Honda did and how Mclaren backed them to go for both Concepts in one go, I am proud of the team no matter how we perform initially. I also read Bouillier’s full interview, the media twisted his words so badly its annoying, and of course left out the bits where he said it does nt matter when you started, we need to perform right now there are no excuses. I need to stop taking media articles for granted, they are always trying to sensationalise and twist what people say. I like Bouillier a lot and I found the full transcripts of interviews and found he was misrepresented again and again, because Mclaren Honda are the target right now, so Bouillier and Hasegawa are everyone’s target right now.

    The issue these days is the focus of Media and Social Media to always focus on the “What” and never the “Why?”. Its the way of the world and social media. Media report Honda’s new engine is not only unreliable BUT ALSO LESS POWERFUL THAN HONDA’S ENGINE IN 2016! HA LOL HA LOL! And on and on. I am not saying Honda are perfect. But they could have justed moved the Turbo and Compressor out of the V of the engine and kept them together like Ferrari and Renault and the team would have easily done 150 laps every day. But they decided for the long term performance of the project to split them and link them with the long shaft like Mercedes who took 18 months to sort the vibration issues out, the exact same issues we are experiencing which are breaking the Electrics of the PU. That’s why the new PU is down on power, because it has to be run at a low speed to keep the vibrations levels under control. I just want to see Honda get the PU working at its full power level and with the vibrations issue solved. To split with Honda now would be throwing the baby out with the bath water in my opinion. They have 2 years of invaluable on track experience. Have got the Energy Recovery System Hardware and Software to a mature level, got all the Engine Mappings and Torque Curves to a mature level, have got Multiple Pre Chamber Combustion installed now and have got the Full Shaft split Turbo Compressor setup in place and are trying to resolve it. They have come so far. If we go to another large Car maker they will be in the same position that Honda were in 2013. And by the time they get their first Hybrid PU made they (and Mclaren) would be 5 years behind, not 1 year. And going back to being a Customer PU would put us where Williams are, always the bridesmaid to Mercedes. Toto Rat says the Customer PUs are equal to the Works Team PUs…(its just the Works Team’s PUs are just “a bit more equal” 🙂 . The problem with lazy, sensationalistic media is they always focus on the What, never the Why. Yes the Honda PU is unreliable and underpowered at the moment = the “What”, and that’s all they and Social Media harp on about again and again and again with trashy glee. Never the “Why” the “What” is happening – because the Full Shaft Split Turbo Compressor is an extremely difficult piece of engineering to get working but ultimately rewarding setup in the long term.

    1. While I accept that the media (whatever that now is) is being a little sensational, you still cannot ignore the fact that Alonso said what he said.

    2. “amateur”

      That’s Alonso describing Honda’s problems during the test (and after 3 seasons mind you)
      That’s not sensationalism. That’s fact.

      “fundamental issue”
      That’s Hasegawasan describing the Problems with the engine at the test. Also fact.

      Theoretical advantage means nothing in business. It only makes theoretical money and attracts theoretical sponsors. Last year McLaren claimed to have the fourth best chassis. How nice. Everyone was laughing because it’s only theoretically true.

      My rule in business is you don’t make hard decisions now, harder ones have to be made in the future

        1. If Pistol Pete is who I think he is, his father was VERY successful in business. But Pete? Jury’s out on that. Decent enough club driver though.

    3. You must either have been able to look right inside their combustion chamber, or else you have gathered the whole lot of tosh that has been pushed out and about and produced it on here (your long rant).

      1. Hey, Salvuborg… How about accepting that you are neither the sole arbiter of opinion, nor the fountain of all knowledge, and let the guy have his say? No need to be rude…

        With love,


        1. Did I miss something rude? Sorry if I did. I am ruthless in this respect. I don’t want rudeness and I don’t want links. Sensible discussion is valuable. You will always get the “Wiki-experts” and the “Googlers” but I’d rather hear from people within the business.

          1. Not directed at you, Joe. And to be fair, I’m possibly being a bit UN-fair myself. Apologies to all…

    4. Very interesting post, PA. I was just about to post something pointing the finger of suspision at the turbo/comprerssor shaft that even Mercedes found tricky but as you have covered the topic in considerable detail I’m going out for a coffee instead!

  33. the 20mph down on straightline speed, I suspect is merely they turned down the engine to try and cut the vibrations so they could run some semi reliable chassis testing runs instead, so its an issue if the engine is only reliable in that mode.

    But one thing I remember back from 92, when the FIA banned the super octane near rocket fuel stuff the teams used to something that was supposed to more like the stuff that came out at the petrol station pump to try and curb Williams domination. The Renault in the back of the Williams went from seemingly indestructible & began suffering from all kinds of electrical problems, Mansell retired from the Italian GP as a result and Patrese limped home with hydraulic issues, and they were never quite as dominant for the rest of the season.

    Apparently the problem was Elfs new more normal fuel, ignited differently, which caused some new set of harmonic frequency vibrations through the engine and everything connected to the engine because fundamentally its a good chunk of the actual supporting structure of the car,and subsequently the car kept breaking down till Elf got a hold on better fuel ignition characteristics.

    why might this be relevant, well Mclaren changed fuel supplier this year, they are now with Castrol/BP, who havent been in F1 since 2006 so have had no exposure to the modern turbo era cars requirements, and Hondas engine last year was believed to be incredibly thirsty too, but Castrol/BP are also supplying Renault this year too…didnt they also seem to have some electrical issues which curbed running at the tests…

    1. Interesting observations. I thought fuel composition was regulated, if not then it’s a massive window of opportunity with the right R&D approach, as you infer.

    2. Yep same thought occurred to me. McLaren had the same problem in 2014 with the Mercedes engine which wasn’t putting out us much power with Mobil fuel as it was with Petronas….

  34. I don’t think anyone is suggesting a mid-season engine change – that would be madness. However, the contract can be absolved at the end of 2017 and Mclaren would be mad not to be looking at options right now and engineering options to make it happen for next year. Honda are into their 4th year of trying and getting nowhere – thats more than enough time in this arena of competition. Mclaren will be looking at Audi,VW and many other options right now with a view to change, believe me.

  35. What is that old saying … desperate situations call for desperate measures?!

    I reckon this is a ‘desperate situation’. And, apparently unlike Joe, I think that Red Bull’s tanty with Renault did work wonders, another desperate measure in a desperate situation.

    Perhaps this is the more genteel McLaren version of the RBR/Renault shirtfronting How much longer can McLaren wait for a competitive engine, the answer is surely not ‘as long as it takes’. The conflict between a ‘long term R&D project’, and a competitive race team that wants to be winning NOW, has to be resolved, and in the F1 environment that resolution has to happen sooner rather than later.

    My expectation would be that, absent a much better showing in the early rounds, we should look for an announcement in the early part of the second half of 2017.

      1. Its an interesting one in that respect. Because if McLaren is a team that wants to be winning now, and Boullier states they would be winning races with Mercedes power, why did they not take them when they have the chance?

        When Mercedes was fishing for a Rosberg replacement, why would they not have released Alonso for Mercedes engines? McLaren releases Alonso, pays his 2017 contract and gets a reliable and powerful powerplant. The future economic benefit from a prizemoney and sponsorship perspective is worth more than $40m if they were at the pointy end of the grid. Mercedes engines are more important at present than Fernando Alonso. Did they honestly think Honda was going to produce the best engine?

        McLaren would of got the best engine, and have a replacement in JB waiting, and Mercedes would get Fernando Alonso and $40m for supplying McLaren with engines. Everyone wins, and its the battle at Mercedes the fans wanted to see.

        McLaren were hoping for the best engine and also the best driver, but given how recent weeks have gone they have the worst engine and risk losing their gun driver.

    1. /we should look for an announcement in the early part of the second half of 2017/

      One should remember that manufacturers must report to FIA before 15 May which teams shall be supplied by them next year.

  36. When it first broke that Honda would wind up using an axial flow turbo versus a centrifugal turbo, I thought “that is absolutely brilliant”. And it still is brilliant. The idea of making a more compact engine by putting the turbo inside the “v” is brilliant. The theory was that even though an axial flow turbo did not compress as much as a centrifugal, the difference would be found in aero efficiency.

    What Honda didn’t know at the time, and what we all probably didn’t realize, was that the Hybrid PU had as much potential as it did in terms of power and efficiency. Mercedes had a wealth of information regarding diesel powertrains, and employed a lot of concepts from that area, focusing so much on thermal efficiency etc. and how the ERS system could both take advantage of and augment that.

    This is also a good point to pause and reiterate that these power units are utterly incredible, and very, very underappreciated.

    From what I am to understand, McLaren possibly owns a fair portion of blame for Honda’s lack of success, because it was their engineers who requested an engine that prioritized a compact architecture, so that they could better exploit aero. Honda agreed with this and went forward with their work, and this is why they went with the axial flow turbo. Unfortunately it became clear a little too late that the levels of power that Mercedes were capable of were well beyond what anyone was expecting. Ferrari made this mistake too, and spent a while digging deep to bring their PU up to par. Ferrari of course were better placed to do this because they had an entire season of competition as test bed. Honda did not.

    The good news is that the law of diminishing return dictates that Honda can now make more progress than Ferrari or Merc, and will eventually catch up.

    Also good news is that formula is moving into another aero development era, so that should benefit McLaren.

  37. Great reporting Joe, but I wonder where all these stories are coming from? What if Honda does want to cut and run? Pay for a Mercedes engine lease and some sponsorship to get out of the deal. I’m sure the engineering staff says all is go, but someone upstairs can pull the plug, they’ve done it before at short notice.

  38. “From what I hear the problems relate to vibrations which are shaking the engine badly”

    This rings a bell (HaHa !!) – Porsche’s engine for it’s now conquering WEC 919 car started life exactly the same way and had to be totally redesigned.

    Thanks Joe.

    1. What a comparison ! Do read about difference V4 and V6 cylinder engines and you’ll know that’s a completely incomparable issue! Porsche had to change firing order which required a new crankshaft journal construction. It’s simply about free inertia forces of 1st and 2nd grade.

  39. I wonder how feasible it would be to redesign the card to accept another engine? the reliable engine in question would be a 2016 Honda … at least until the 2017 version gets it’s vibration problems sorted.

  40. I would have been surprised if McLaren were not keeping in contact with Mercedes, Renault and even Ferrari just as insurance policies. Not negotiating a new contract but just keeping abreast of the options if anything unexpected happened. I dare say every customer team is doing the same. The rumours are dog bites man stories, not man bites dog.

  41. Joe, is it true the rules allow Honda to homologate another engine, as long as it’s prior to Melbourne? Would it more sensible to run the current engine de-tuned and work out the issues, or go back to last year’s engine (assuming it didn’t require a complete rework of the packaging)?

    1. /is it true the rules allow Honda to homologate another engine, as long as it’s prior to Melbourne/

      No, it’s not. You can change the engine anytime you want through the season, but changes must be homologated before they are used, too.

  42. Good points Joe, commonsense says that McLaren have no realistic option but to continue with Honda until at least the end of the year and probably beyond. What seems to me to be the main story is that this can only have come from someone at McLaren talking to journalists in order to embarrass Honda into improving.

    I spent several years working as a consultant to Japanese companies, basically preparing engineers to deal with foreign partners. Japanese corporate culture can be intensely frustrating. At its worst, it’s incredibly bureaucratic and focused on protecting “face”. Bosses make impossible boasts about targets, but if lower level technical workers tell them that what they promised is impossible, they will be bullied and ostracized. It’s nearly impossible to change companies mid-career in Japan, so embarrassing your boss by pointing out inconvenient facts is career suicide (and often literal suicide). There is also an obsession with doing things in-house. Bringing in outside experts would mean passing over insiders for promotion, so Japanese corporate culture strongly resists this. Many Japanese organizations are dominated by a kind of magical thinking, where company “spirit” allows miracles to be achieved, meaning that nobody can point out that goals are unachievable because that would be a confession that they aren’t in tune with the spirit of the company founders.

    I suspect that Japanese corporate culture is what doomed the previous Honda effort and that McLaren are sick of Honda failing to deliver on promises.. Hence, McLaren planted these stories to publicly embarrass Honda enough to hopefully sort out their management issues. What will be interesting is to see Honda’s reaction, will they bunker down and persist with what they’re doing or make serious changes?

    1. I think you are spot on with your assessment of the Japanese work culture, I have heard similar stories from other sources. I don’t doubt Honda’s commitment or technological resources but they will struggle to produce a competitive engine under the current Japanese led regime. Take a look at their current, lacklustre, car lineup – the new NSX was delayed over a year because they couldn’t make the hybrid engine work. Their road and race bikes are struggling hugely because of technology issues. The only good stuff coming of Honda right now is their Indycar engine which is from Honda Performance Development – a US company.

      Ultimately engine development needs to be shifted out of Japan entirely. The best chance McLaren have right now is to get Honda to accept a McLaren management team to oversee their development operations.

      1. How did this Honda lack of engines ability allow them to produce all the great VTEC 4cyl motors of the past that were world-beating? ie. the first 160HP 1600 Vtec, the 240HP S2000 engine and 220HP Type-R Civic engine. The original NSX was pretty great. The current Civic is as good as anything else out there. I’m not seeing that Honda can’t achieve world-class results.

  43. It sounds realy amazing that the mighty McLaren could be asking for Merc power units. Ron has deliberately sabotaged all attempts by Stuttgart for 20 years to bring the team into the brand family and look what it has earned him now. He lost control of the company, team and the group. The team is making up the numbers and are even relegated to back markers. Would it really have hurt that much to be part of the three pointed star and still have the top job? Even Ron must now realized the colossal dimension of his mistake to turn down the mustachoid smiling man who tried to offer him partnership for so long. For me it is a joke that people like Toto Wolf can own 30% in the championship winning team without investing a dime and Ron sits on the ashes of his proud empire of the past. It is much as the British Empire in the 20th century. Two times the winner and it cost everything they once owned. What a sad story indeed.

      1. Gerd is making a highly sophisticated & nuanced point re “invested;” i.e he is saying that Toto (& his group) did not invest in the team during its formative years, undertook some of the heavy lifting, while hoping for their investment to grow, instead they were sold a piece of the team at just the point that the team became a success. Thus Toto & his grp were indeed fortuitous and is now just sopping-up the gravy. So Gerd’s contention is intuitively valid.

        As you know, selling the 2nd trance, at that time, was a likely precursor to MB getting out of F1 due to a lack of success. In 2010 the Times reported that Mr. ‘Mustachio’ said the MB Board agreed to buy the Team on condition that it would become a winner within a reasonable period of time.

        Achieving success in the short- order was one of the reasons that the hefty millions were paid to Michael to induce out of retirement and be reunited with Brawn. As is well known, notwithstanding MB’s massive investments success continued to elude. Hence, changes of one type or another was inevitable
        During the messy re-organization that ensued resulted in the exit of Brawn; but no one had foreseen that the Brawn- built beast-type juggernaut was about to be unleashed. It is only natural that MB must still be kicking themselves for having giving away the 1st trance (10%) to Nikki and, the 2nd trance (30%) to Toto & his gang. Could this be poetic justice being applied to MB for having given Brawn the Boots?

    1. Ergo.. Ron should never have sold his majority share in the company he loved and devoted his life to.

      I wonder if Joe has a view on this please?

        1. It wasn’t his choice to fall out with Mansour. Mansour sided with Lisa. There are always two sides to a story though, of course.

        2. It has been reported that the very serious breach occurred while Mansour was very, very seriously ill and laying in a Hospital bed.

          As a consequence of one reason or another, Ron seems to have a scant number of friends in the F1 Paddock. The negligible cadre include Bernie, Sir Frank and, a chap name Joe S (I know Joe S is significantly closer to Martin W.)

          Now, Mansour, on many occasions, has posted serious comments on Joe’s Blog. A few of his comments stipulated prospective paths the Board would be undertaking to address issues raised on the Blog. Essentially, he has a high degree of respect for Joe S. So why did Ron not use Bernie’s as well as Joe S’ influence to help to rectify the breach & facilitate a reconciliation with Mansour?

            1. The Fallout re Ron vis-à-vis Ojjeh Mansour: See “Ron Dennis and McLaren: the end of an era” by Mark Hughes on 16th November 2016.”

              …It triggered a series of events that lost Dennis the friendship of Ojjeh, the backer who Ron had enticed away from Williams in 1981 and who had provided the finance to fuel the team’s initial expansion and who thereafter was the financial muscle in the background that allowed McLaren the ability to step over the gaps between partners, giving it independence from them

              “To fall out with that man after all they had achieved together should have been difficult, but Ron somehow managed it. Something (very) personal must’ve happened to have done that. Dennis’ boardroom coup that ousted Martin Whitmarsh as CEO when Ojjeh was between life and death in a hospital bed was something to do with it …”

              The Paucity of Ron’s friends in the Paddock was drawn from memory of reportages in the Times of a few years ago. With the inherent Pay Wall it can be time consuming locating links. But I’ll make determined an effort to revisit this post during the 4th wk of April and exposit on any non-derivative data of any significance.

          1. > It has been reported that the very serious breach occurred while Mansour was very, very seriously ill and laying in a Hospital bed.

            I’m sure it didn’t help, but Joe has said more than once that it was actually the disagreement over whether or not to go to Bahrain that was the trigger — Mansour had the casting vote on that occasion and although he voted with Ron (as their covenant forced him to do) against going, he used his casting vote to agree with Mumtalakat to go after all. Ron never forgave him.

            > Now, Mansour, on many occasions, has posted serious comments on Joe’s Blog

            When and where? (Internal links to Joe’s blog ARE allowed.)

            1. I don’t know if the person using Mansour’s name on this blog is really Mansour. I have never asked. This is one reason why Internet pseudonyms are annoying. You don’t ever know who you are dealing with, unless they declare it, like Tony Dowe and Nick Goozee. Then you know…

            2. Ambient Sheep thanks for the added clarity that you ushered to the table to help us understand what happened.

              In addition to the quite plausible points that you articulated, Mark Hughes argues that the fracture stemmed from a range of factors : These include (i) the industrial espionage case; (ii) the manner in which Ron managed the issue (iii) Its damaging impacts (iv) Ron’s Boardroom coup that ousted M. Whitmarsh and, (v) something quite personal that transpired while Ojjeh was drifting/poised between life & death in a hospital bed. (BTW: I do, respectfully, recommend that you read Mark’s piece in Motor Sports Magazine).

              Ron, based on his locution, could be characterized as a deep – thinker, of course not at the level of his old nemesis the brainy Max. So why did Ron not reasoned that he needed to take dramatic steps to heal the breach or mend the fracture in order to obviate the humiliatingly crushing defeat he suffered and his ignoble ouster from the colossal organization that ‘Ron built’

              1. I read Mark Hughes’ article (again) and while as always a well formed piece, I fail to find in it the significance of depth of intimation that is being attributed to it, here. I’m quite sure anyone around the paddock could pen such a piece, in fact, if that was the tone they wished to express. And it is just a tone. One note among many. When not taking sides, I am sure those closer to the matter, would want to express a far greater range. Which is a generalism, in human and journalistic observation. This is why I am inclined, as absent greater information I think one should, comment taking sides and intimating at unspoken truths that cannot be even pointed towards.

                I am tempted further, to think that has Mansour Ojjeh himself been commenting here, which is something I have missed entirely (or simply discounted as so improbably, given the sensitivity of the affairs and my impression of the man as a man inclined to far greater husbanding of his interactions with the public, would have wished to use his words to speak in a manner, if not -certainly not – revelatory, then with customary clarity, simplicity, and purposefulness, that they would have been, even in modesty, very clear statements indeed, upon which we might at least far better understand the nature of the rift. I cannot think of any but the most acrimonious former partners, and then only in cases where there have been allegations thrown around carelessly, when one or the other speaking out through intermediaries, has not also been considerate and delivering compassion to the other side. Long partnerships do not unravel leaving breadcrumb trails on internet sites. My impressions of both parties so strongly aver me from intuitively believing Mansour Ojjeh commented here about the afffair, that I would take a very deep breath and perforce both have to deeply question my intuition regarding people that has so rarely deceived me, as well as seek some sedative to becalm my worry what damage might i suddenly attribute from the disintegration to point of website warring, must have caused at their company.

                I see several comments in this discussion, all advocating the prudence of real corporate ellision with if not sale, to Mercedes Benz. The exhortation of green pastures forfeit by interpersonal atrocity triggered by Dennis, seems common to each also appearing to take some side with Ojjeh. (if indeed with such a sophisticated man, sides are even possible)

                In declaring I am a unabashed fan of Ron Dennis, you may use the first dictionary definition. Allow that I am admitting to the irrationality sometimes admiration can instill in the deeply impressed.

                But my fanatical appreciation for Mr. Dennis, also stems from another great desire, which itself many might argue is irrational: the idea that in McLaren, thanks to Ron Dennis in the most significant ways, England had and still has the potential of a automotive industry renaissant. In Ron Dennis, I see the kind of man whom precisely I want to see leading the hopes, beliefs, and dreams, of all who like me, also would see a English auto marque compete with the national giants, if not yet in scale, than in depth and breadth of capability, and depth and breadth of actual industry such as captivates a young boy’s mind then forseeing a world, and a life of work which will not later disappoint him.

                Even in puppet commentary, there can often be found a great deal of truth.

                It could be as simple as the highly plausible scenario, that having funded McLaren with dedication, every care and grace, and generosity of spirit placed in faith at the disposal of the employees of that company, a act absolutely equally deserving of the highest honour the country may bestow, nevertheless Mr. Ojjeh and others believed, at the culmination of a long career nurturing a ever growing success, that sale to a great historic marque such as MB, would be a fitting crown to their efforts.

                And in every way, I would agree, and often thought that sale to MB was the reasonable and honourable plan.

                Until I saw the plans for the MTC and the first road cars swiftly followed by a succession of determined iteration the kind one associates with absolute purposefulness toward a higher goal than mere dress for sale to a former corporate partner, no matter how eligible and respectable, and still amorous, that partner may be.

                How anyone can imagine McLaren, with the capacities and demonstrable scope of ability it stretched to encompass in a corporate blink of a eye, can be other than a contender for a national industrial leader, the kind of which not seen in generations, is beyond meng blind into the most almighty mess and .

                If this crazed exit from the EU… I fear and predict we are walking blindfold if not also drunk, into the most Almighty mess the end of which can be no less than a return to the IMF, bowl in hand, as barely forty three years ago… if a byproduct is to enable government preference for care of it’s protectorate’s interests, then frankly I believe intervention ought to combine the purchase of dissenting shareholdings under a trust, loans (direct, not guaranteed and passing only commissions abroad figuratively and literally made as literally required, and the reinstatement of Ron Dennis as Chairman. Politically, we may become soon in desperate need of actually good, fundamental statements in this country’s future. I believe this is entirely possible, and Dennis’s recent appointment is being used to permit him to discover what technologies and projects can be the more effective, contracted to McLaren to innovate and deliver, under his direction and control. I do not see Ron Dennis’ new job as any kind of so impoverished a thought, as merely snapping up under utilized talent. That is not how the MOD, at least not how the MOD which employed my uncle, ever appeared to me to work.

                What none of us want, in the meantime, is for a lacklustre competition record, to mar the public impression of the talents at McLaren or Honda, nor accrue any aspersions to that performance being a legacy of ousted management. Comments above clearly allude to unusually bold consensus, to develop that racecar’s ICE, and I can only think from that, blinded by my personal desire for the solitary supercar I would want being attractive for this same reason, that a super compact ICE in hybrid configurations, enables a potentially brilliant front engine layout for a road supercar of the future.

                Well, will be the day, that my dreams coincide with what is practically unarguably a excellent, pragmatic, future, if only it can be done. I see resolution of the future of McLaren, as a major political priority, but as such, if it is understood in that way, and action is seen as vital in national interest, then it will be played out in quiet earnestness, and not in dreams or acrimony in public. I may dream, but please by every means possible it this is so: tell me my dream would be a bad one to come to pass.

                  1. Erm, yeah, wow, too. Quite an Ode To Ron Dennis

                    But I did apologize for being a Ron Dennis fan i thought early enough!

                    Being distracted pleasantly by a mate who, well Australians know what deal 501ers get handed, and it’s a arbitrary law I reckon anyone not liable to kow tow to authority can fall foul of.. well anyhow, my mate and the Australian new football season has cased likely a welcome elimination of the passage I just cut from here. (But Ditto saves my cuts in a database, to be resurrected Neat tool if on Windows..)

                    I was comparing Pagani to the top firms. Mr Pagani is a one off, for sure. His form, the factory build around him, has all the benefits of modern tools just as any well financed company has. But his new cars roll out at the rate Ferrari and the rest produced in the 80s or 90s, whilst the majors, plus McLaren, appear perennially fecund. The production of new models is prodigious.

                    I say this, because McLaren announcing a car to match the F1 engined one they tease, Aston also… this means McLaren are determined and able to shape the top of the game, against the strongest competition.

                    But where before I talked about breadth of ability and skills, now I realize just how deep a bench McLaren are fielding, here. They are up wit the big boys.

                    You can buy Ansys or Catia, in theory, for sure, shrink wrapped. But just as I gaped when told to give me a desk on a bank’s sales floor, cost £600,000 a year in support (“it is expensive, letting children play with real life, but if you do not learn the reflexes now, few can be trained later” said my interviewer) And this is the difference: Pagani hasn’t the deep bench of analysts and data scientists and software engineers and hardware purchasing and provision, they have the tools, but not the coaches and players to turn a passing grade into win after win.

                    That was happening to my company. I believed in the romanticism of a Mr Pagani, his factory built around his villa in beautiful surroundings. I still do. For later, not as a means and not as a method, a byproduct. My delusion cost me dearly, if i sound a grudge now, i was not then, my cofounder was too right i wanted control too much of what i didn’t yet know, and my other partners were too old to try empire building again against my natural behavior, so i bought them out, everyone was happy. But I did not learn.

                    This is why I worry about McLaren’s future.

                    Everyone can be happy, but still incredibly misguided.

                    Had I not bet it all on a new investment coming through, never would I have decided as I did, and i think of the jobs that would have been created even from much smaller base.

                    McLaren is playing with bench depth as big as anyone.

                    I revise my opinion, they are a mini-major at the most pejorative.

                    They basically are a major, strategically.

                    I fear they will be run down,


                    while the halo persists of deep tech and British small scale innovation…

                    bunk to the British small investor crap, Ron Denis build like a major, so he created a major. None of that would happen with shed tinkering, which is Pagani’s beautiful and admirable world, by comparison.

                    National. Strategic. Industrial. Asset.

                    Political asset, when the super wealthy drive a McLaren, and consider their state investment fund ought to have a piece.

                    But a final sell out to private equity would be such a enriching fiscal event, for the shareholders, that culmination while still festooned with accolade and laurels…

                    But the one man which thought like a major, built a major, would keep running a major by force of willpower until there is no further remaining dissent, is gone.

                    I may have misled about my own past, because I was most roundly criticized for doing things or buying kit which “only huge corporates buy”. This is why I do not have a big house, or a fancy car… but my yearning for a environment like Pagani has, as too transparent, and I did not tale seriously enough the criticism that I was imbalanced to think we already were a major, instead of how to become one. If Dennis leaving diminishes McLaren, the sport looses massively, too, even if the team wins everything forever on… Whjy? Because the lack of vital balance and focus I suffered, was because I knew no hardship directly enough. Competition is the hardship we emulate to decide who are the better people, spot is how we show in this so risk adverse world, that we are still vital humans. I say the loss would be massive even if McLaren win and win… Because Dennis said the manufacturers were not needed, F1 is the top, and F1 could reach him how to build cars at the top. This is why we need McLaren to be a independent modest giant. People are saying so much that Ron Dennis has no friends in F1, not only here, all of a sudden maybe I never listened before.. But that is a destructive disassociation, for all I know, because Dennis is who showed the world F1 is truly serious and reflects the real world in full dimensions. Show me a major auto company to come from any other race series? Ferrari are almost even disqualified to my mind, for the length of their independence and production output, and habit to select who gets to buy cars, excludes them from normal manufacturer classes, in my book. This, the idea that F1 is the pinnacle and can create a auto business the top of the world can’t beat down, is the message F1 would lose so painfully. Maybe someone ought to use that message positively, while it still is definitely true…

                1. Whoa!

                  “I’m quite sure anyone around the paddock could pen
                  such a piece…”

                  Really! Surely you jest. The Paddock, (the press’ area) is peopled by a diverse spectrum of journalists. These are drawn primarily, but not exclusively, from: (i) The traditional fields of newspapers, magazines (News Print), (ii) TV/Radio and, (iii) Bloggers – a new entrant. I would argue that Mark would be ranked among the very best of the three cadres that constitute the press corp. I have no doubt that a reasonable, (here, guesstimate), statistical binomial distribution (Bell Curve) would show that a max of 40-45% of News Print journalists and 5- 10% of Bloggers are of Mark’s calibre and could penned piece of comparable worth.

                  (Bell Curve Left Side – Totally incomparable NP =50%
                  “ “ Bloggers= 90%) .mid point “ NP = 5 %

                  Prior to writing this reply I either read or took a cursory look at some of the work products of some NPs journalists and, a select number of the more popular Blogs, most of which I’d always ignored or with which I were unfamiliar.

                  I found that the vast majority of their work products (WPs) were twaddles. Of others their WPs narratives could best be characterized as collections of wrenched facts bordering on sophistries, deliberate incongruities of tones and, cluttered segmental components that do not cohere into satisfying or unifying wholes. Further, a few were cloying pieces of claptraps as well as grating concoctions of worthlessness. So Mark Hughes vis a’ vis ?!

                  I’d forgotten, earlier, to mention these next few points: Undoubtedly, had the ‘Title’ of the piece included the words ‘An Appreciation;’ then the revised version would have served to obviate the anticipatory shortcomings and disappointments that one may have encountered in the piece re contents, direction, tone, logic, flow, body, etc., It should be noted that the piece was marred by an unusually high numbers of syntactical faux pas.

                  Notwithstanding the absence of any easily discernable propositional orientation of the article, one could infer from the initial tone that this piece would not embody the depth of research, the rigour of analysis and the vigour of argument that is often found in his usually exhaustively researched substratum, technical and structural underpinnings of engine designs & configurations. And that it would not remotely approach his usual contemplativeness expositions on cars chaises.

                  Concerning the Mansour caper; it seems to me that it is not unreasonable to conclude that one may have been the victim of the ‘known unknown’ of Climate Change (CC). Hence, the powerful effect of the ‘unknown’ aspect of ‘CC’ may have influenced or is wholly responsible for the substitution, unintended, of the name of a Mansour with the name of the Mansour. Naturally, prudence dictates that all original ascriptions to any and all Mansour be hereby rescinded

                  All of the argument articulated, here, as well as comments posted are devoid of any form/types of categorical posturing of certitudes or deterministic conclusiveness. I feel confident that this will be considered sufficiently clarifying and informed.

  44. Yes, it is totally sensible that McLaren will finish out the season with Honda.

    It is also totally sensible that McLaren will look to sever the deal if Honda stumble bum through 2017 as they did last year.

    There is no comparing the Renault – Honda failures. Honda began with a clean sheet and have solid the linens. Renault seemingly fixed their problems in 2 years, in the midst of buying out Lotus.

    Regardless of the financial inpact, McLaren will be in a lose – lose situation if they don’t make a change if Honda go n tots up again this year.

    Zak Brown has had all pressure removed from his shoulders in seeking a title sponsor, can’t sell a product without some measure of winning performance. I don’t see any podiums for McLaren this year.

    1. I disagree Zak Brown is under no pressure to deliver a sponsor.

      Even, to my mind, he is even under greater pressure.

      For not only do they need a appropriately significant company and brand, but also one that can work with the new colors, itself a genuine difficulty, but Zak has to secure a sponsor who is prepared to by in to the style and rate of development of the car.

      If I was working with a sponsor, and not selling, I would look at that livery, and believe int he opportunity, as I commented below the car launch article, to develop the emotional range inherently possible in the color orange, which range is not yet used at all, and can be grown into with great effect.

      What disappoints me, is that M. Boullier, cannot find exhortations from the past, and not the present, to fire the energies behind Honda’s efforts. Not only as a matter of face, which I think he seriously miscalculates, but as a matter of respect for their last involvement, as a team outright. He should be giving encouragement positively, reminding the public for the immense credit they deserved but let instead give us national heroes and pride in Ross Brawn and Jenson. Make Honda’s people believe they can bring the same, for both our countries, now. I do not doubt Eric Boullier’s ability as a race team manager, but i fear he has a lot to learn too quickly, how to transmit the positive _enabling_ language that his partners need to hear. He miscalculates gravely the depth and significance of any negative language, in Japanese culture. That is poor, when superb encouraging alternative communication is so readily taken from the recent past.

  45. We need to remember that when Honda re-entered formula 1 in 1983, they first appeared in July 1983 with the Spirit team, following later in the season with Williams. Their first season it was difficult to evaluate the engine, but in 1984, apart from a lucky win in Dallas, where Keke Rosberg kept his head cool and the car on the track, while many faster rivals crashed, the season was blighted by numerous reliability issues, with the engine reported as having bad throttle lag, on-off power delivery, insufficient cylinder block rigidity, and unpredictable and high fuel consumption.
    Honda finally produced an all-new engine in the Summer of 1985 – 2 full years after they first entered formula 1. That new engine started the era of Honda dominance in F1.
    This was the simple turbo era, with only an ICE, and ERS via a simple turbo.
    So, when I look at the current evolution curve of the F1 powerplant, it does not surprise me that Honda is still moving up the learning curve.

    1. Yes, but all the V6 & V8 1.5l turbo supercharged engines of the Eighties were using twin turbos. Located very close to the cylinder heads, so vibrations or long shafts not even were in mind. Also the Alfa-4C engine for the abandoned Ligier had a twin turbo. Totally different technology compared with today’s rules. It was a big mistake not to allow twin turbos from 2014 on by the FIA.

      1. Thank you, Chris!

        Excellent point!

        Wherever did that cost reduction talk get us, eh? /s

        But it has only finally sunk in to my thick skull: 4 engines a year!!???

        Seriously, when a few hours ago that rule finally permeated my curdled cranium, my reaction was to think – entirely seriously – I’m not going to bother watching, this year. At all.

        To me, this is a sport, and a sport of competing engineers.

        Every sport involves pushing human limits, and many, from the javelin to cycling, have a constant development of technology, itself the human limit that defines almost all we experience in this age.

        And whether aches and bruises, ligament tear or other injury, breaking the human body is the one inevitable risk of human competition at the upmost level.

        Suddenly, this simple but absolutely defining criterion and characteristic of top level sporting endeavor – the propensity to push our abilities beyond knowable and beyond safe limits – in fact, the human ability to break past so many apparent “hard” limits we now know the best can exceed….

        … this 4 engine restriction, says much more than “you can’t break engines”, it says to me “this is not sport for engineers, any more”.

        At least not ICE engineers.

        Now, ironically, I realized shortly after my “not gonna watch” reaction, I am sure as heck going to be watching, because to me, the only real sporting action, driver preference aside, will be in the McLaren – Honda garage.

        If that is not a angle that ought to catch the ear of a finely attuned potential sponsor, I do not know what it.

    2. I believe you’re right that the 1984 engine was peaky and lacking driveability even by the poor standards of the turbos of that era, to the point at which it seriously upset the car’s handling. I seem to remember a published interview with Rosberg in which he reported being ignored when he criticised the car and the engine in particular. IIRC his interviewer summarised to him that he’d been told he was ‘an ignorant Finn who couldn’t speak English’ and his reply was something like ‘that’s the editor laughing’, i.e. (if I understood correctly) ‘those are your words not mine and I’m not challenging them’…

  46. I see Renault are putting the boot in with a suggestion that engine manufacturers should have a budget cap. If that were to happen, I feel sure we’d see Honda leaving F1 immediately and Mercedes probably starting to think the same way.

    Not everyone appears to know that Renault pushed for the new engine formula, claiming they would leave F1 if the FIA didn’t agree to a change. I believe they wanted F1 to be more relevant to road cars.

    Renault have a long history of not fully developing their engines, then persuading the FIA to allow them to catch up with the other engine manufactures, who have been forced to stop development. I wonder how many times Renault have employed engineers from other companies who know how to make their engines work. They certainly made hay when they used a year of development to produce the off-throttle blown diffuser.

    I believe Renault have already asked for development of the current engines to be stopped, except for themselves.

    When it comes to skullduggery in F1, we only hear about the teams. It would be interesting to get some stories about how the engine manufacturers operate.

  47. Surely McLaren must have thought if we make our own engines this will translate into our road cars!!! Full on manufacturer, expanded car sales, technology overlap route.

      1. I am just remembering, for sake of thinking afresh, the fact that Dennis was the decision maker, for the Honda deal.

        How does one make friends with someone who thinks you are a upstart and know nothing?

        One way, is to observe how they fail, step in to help them out. Do so, with extreme caution as to face.

        This does not have to be a act of someone motivated by negative thoughts, “Oh, let’s show up Honda, and we need them on the back foot to get what we want”. But it very well could be a builder of a potential major, realizing the needs that causes to create can be fulfilled only by greater reach, seeking the way that ensures the longer term, what cost of some racing a honorable scar.

        I just can’t put it out of my mind, as plausible. Dennis surely wants scale like Honda have. He must have known how hard they would find re-entering F1. I do not imagine he would speak as M Boullier has spoken, i mean figuratively as a company that would not happen with RD helming the feature. But RD has been booted mid production. Someone thought this was Heaven’s Gate and would sink the Studio. But the vision was not one that could dare to be shown, before the dailies come in, the first inter cuts are made, and everyone feels the movie’s power. His ousting is is wrong on so many levels. That white Chandon, above Honda, white on black. No. Someone knew he would be vulnerable, midst of this, therefore they know what a disaster it can be, maybe likely will be, without the director at the helm. This is why I think more and more, that sale must be desired, imminent disasters, ones a cost of taking control, ones that can be neatly blamed on past dictators (as will be claimed in such reasonable gentle tones) … this smacks of some serious play with too many people’s work.

        1. “One way, is to observe how they fail, step in to help them out. Do so, with extreme caution as to face.”

          I concur wholeheartedly with these sentiments. In so doing, I also fully embrace the, implied, contention that we must always be, or make a determined effort to be sensitive to the sensitivities of others.

          However, they often tend to take the concept of ‘saving face’ to the outer limits of our exosphere. In the process their decision-making processes often appear to be devoid of reason, logic, commonsense; quality insights etc.

          Further, because they are a homogenous society, as Yasuhisa Arai demonstrated last year they have little respect for advice, counsel or for any types of input from outsiders. Such attitudes always lead to some degrees of suspiciousness as to the motives of outsiders. In 2016, I believe I read in Autosport that McLaren’s extended offers of help assist resolving the continuing engine dilemma were rebuffed. ‘So how do you solve a problem like Maria’?

      2. What did Honda write off, pre – Brawn?

        Their investment is massive, and massive again.

        McLaren need maybe the smallest part of that, in a co-operation, if they have something to bring. Maybe it is not directly technology,but skill handling it and focus. Understanding the data. But that would mean diverting from their own engine division, as well.

        I am obviously speculating, but if you have the ability, and can step in, and do not need the credit. McLaren make wonderful cars, but service and network would enable them to sell so many more. Trade some tech inF1, for some tech applicable to more efficient, cheaper road cars, maybe.

        I might be a touch overboard, the way I wrote above, as if RD expected Honda to stumble, but also he has been distracted. And why did he come back to run the racing side, except to be there for Honda. Maybe they expected even insisted he be there. All I know is that someone stuck a spanner in the works, and RD being jettisoned was the culmination of a long process. So I think we could be seeing the results of that process, and not bad earlier decisions by the top man.

  48. Wow, given how smart some people are here on the comments i suggest honda goes after them to offer full employment. These people are the real experts, not the japs.

  49. Back in the day, as my kids say, Mac would have had a competitive Cosworth, and just needed the chassis to be ok, and a couple of good drivers…which they have. Watching a driver as superb as Alonso flog around at the back of the field is just sad, and illogical….I also feel sorry for Stoffel as his chances of emulating Gilles in a Mac, are highly unlikely.
    This type of thing just brings the series into disrepute imho, it is as stupid as it gets really.

  50. Joe,

    > The designers in factory teams collaborate and the engine designers produce what the chassis engineers want. They do not do this with customer teams, so the customers are always at a disadvantage.

    Is it fair to say that Red Bull / Renault is still the exception that proves the rule?

  51. Left field thought.
    McLaren buy the Manor F1 entry and chassis’ and run with Mercedes engines for Alonso and Vandoorne.
    Honda run the McLaren Honda entry for Button and Matsushita.

    1. The Manor entry has been withdrawn. This it no longer exists. One would need to see the Concorde Agreement for details of how that works

      1. my thoughts also Peter C. after understanding the complexity of switching engine suppliers. but instead of taking over the entry, just buy the intellectual property rights of the 2017 Manor chassis design at the auction that took place last week and build the car in the McLaren shops .its all plumbed out for a Mercedes. A comment from Eric B. about McLaren used to be able to build a car in six months proves interesting.

  52. Hi all,

    Can anyone enlighten me……

    The token system is gone, BUT you are limited to four engines for the season.

    What counts as “an engine” ?

    What can you change between races and still keep the engine “the same! ?

    No tokens might be good but if you only have three chances to bring upgrades…

      1. A few reasons Joe. Continuity? All problems under one roof. One voice, and not washing your dirty linen in public. I think Renault found this out the hard way.

      2. I could think of several reasons why they might . But a whole lot more why they wouldn’t

  53. Agree with everything written, however I disagree with the statement at the end about RBR and Renault. RBR was quiet about Renault and look where that got them in 2015. Then RBR started kicking and screaming and look what happened in 2016.

    I believe the RBR did this because they could see something want right at Renault and that was the only way to force change. As you say, Mclaren are probably doing the same thing so I assume there must be something they have identified at Honda that also needs to change.

    1. That´s exactly what Marko said, but RBR and above all Marko was “kicking and screaming” in 2014 and in 2015 and the result was that RBR ended up without having an engine for 2016. You always get what you deserve. But it was the right decision, after Marko was muzzled, to continue working together and to engage Mario Illien to help the Renault technicians. Of course that was disliked by the Renault people, but being successful this is something also Mc Laren and Honda should consider.

  54. To be honest I don’t know where all this positivism comes from. Of course McLaren will stick with Honda until end of season but I don’t for a minute believe they will be in any way competitive – however much I would love that. I also wouldn’t believe anything that comes directly from Honda in terms of performance claims and them blaming it all on some vibration issues.

    I remember a video by Ferrari presenting their first 1.6 F1 car. They claimed it was a true masterpiece and they couldn’t believe how wonderful that car was. They literally announced it as the championship winning car. Those ‘facts’ lasted about 3-4 weeks. I think the ‘facts’ handed to us by Honda will go up in smoke as well.

    Nobody in Japan will EVER say they made a dud. It’s honour. They will rather lie and just pray thing will be different when they wake up one day later. The last 2 years they said they were on to a winning engine because they went crazy on stuff like… what was it again… turbo and manifold in one single piece? Dramatically different approaches that cut the weight of the power units by a giant factor? All so advanced, stuff their competitors didn’t even think about. It ended up a joke. “Extremely complicated and advanced next gen” just meant “doesn’t work at all and never will”. Water and other leaks popped up all the time and they always made it sound like someone forgot to tighten a nut correctly somewhere deep inside the engine – “just a tiny issue but it’s a lot of work to get to that nut because the engine has to come out”. You would think they would be able to beef up their mechanics and titanium nuts. It’s all smoke and mirrors because they are too stubborn to actually admit they were on the wrong path in terms of design and in terms of execution. So sorry, but the new stuff about vibration sounds 2015 all over again. I’m saying it’s going to be another disaster this year.

    McLaren would cause them reputation damage doing a split? Everybody can see Honda are doing the damage themselves and it’s already clear to everybody they’re just not doing a good job. McLaren would be wise to go for a reliable and performing partner rather than sitting out the unfounded claims by Honda. Of course it would do terrible things to the F1 team budget, but the McLaren company image is worth more than what they would lose in an F1 split.

    1. You mean, if things are not ideal, then RonSpeak would be the perfectly acceptable language of presentation, for a partner like Honda?

  55. Honda should learn from Mercedes, the latest from Mercedes was hiring a magician and he promptly pulled 70hp out of his hat instead of a rabbit, and man, that was a big number 44 fan boys moral booster.

    1. I may be wrong (not my field of expertise), but I can’t help but feel that comments like that make you sound a bit of a twat. But hey, it’s sparked this (tiny) debate, so it’s all good.


  56. Hi Joe,
    Thank you for your previous reply. Is this an issue of the exhaust system ?
    Monaco requires peak torque at low RPM, to give maximum acceleration out of slow speed corners verses for example Silverstone, which requires peak torque at maximum RPM, so you can keep accelerating on a long straight.
    Torque is moved up and down the rev range by changing the profile of the camshaft, ie opening and closing the valves over a longer or shorter duration as well as the air flow in to the cylinders and out of the exhaust.
    There is always an overlap between air in and out of a cylinder, that is both inlet and exhaust valves are open on the sucking in phase, if the exhaust is not pushing out all the exhaust gases then these are sucked back in.
    As you increase the RPM it is easy with a badly designed exhaust to suck the exhaust gases back in, so you get an incomplete detonation on each cycle, vibration and failure. On a dyno it looks fine but the culprit is the exhaust you attach it to in the car.
    The biggest loss in exhaust air flow is at the end that meets the outside air, because it has to push a large chunk of air of different pressure, rather than the small piece in the exhaust itself.
    The problem then becomes two fold, firstly F1 use exhaust gases to aid downforce, so that in itself becomes another air pressure related restriction, and the profile of the exhaust system itself.
    If you have a piece of pipe the air flow out of the end is 5% less than its area, if you flare the end you get back to zero losses and if you put an elipse, the rounded end pipe has an air flow greater than the pipe diameter. The same formula can be used on the air input to the cylinders.
    Now you have control of air in and out of the engine, you can move the torque curve up and down by simply varying the inlet and exhaust pipe lengths and diameters.
    If Honda have been running out of torque on long straights the issue is one of inlet and exhaust air flow.

    1. To put some numbers to exhaust flow, a standard road car set up uses 33% of its horse power pushing the exhaust gases through the exhaust pipe, so the biggest and cheapest performance improvement is always made by changing the exhaust and that liberation of horse power then appears at the road wheels. Even as simply as putting an ellipse profile at the exhaust end.
      Therefore a poorly designed exhaust system has two effects, it uses horse power to push the exhaust gases out of the pipe and its restrictive nature allows the exhaust gases to be sucked back into the cylinder with increasing RPM, causing poor detonation and vibration.
      If the engine works on the dyno but not in the car it can only be an exhaust system issue.

        1. Mike of NY your posts were binned because they all included links. Read the blog rules. We don’t do links here.

          1. Joe, you do know that you can neuter completely the effect of outbound links so that they work but have zero possible effect on the standing of your blog, do you not? I would provide a link to Google’s documentation… Whilst I entirely agree the work that goes into your blog, any website, shoudl not be diminished or affected by visitors who gain benefit without effort or cost, benefit that is so considerable the web giants monetized it to the extent they all but killed places such as yours here, by destroyign the very spirit. But this was seen by those writing search engines, and they provided the “re nofollow” rule, which, according to the first result I could find, ”

            “Nofollow” provides a way for webmasters to tell search engines “Don’t follow links on this page” or “Don’t follow this specific link.””

            and a number of plugins for WordPress ensure that nofollow is the immutable condition of outbound links.

            If this is concern for spammy links, which you might be inundated with and we don’t see, I can suggest remedy for those, too. The web is so far away from its technical, skilled, articulate altruistic origin, that we are now bound within artificial communities that are really feifdoms. All except the real web where you control your own destiny. I am aware it is a major operation even for a small team, for example, to move a blog from the WordPress subdomains, and keep the page ranking and so on. But it absolutely is achievable. The forums abound with rather obvious looking mistakes, and one must not be encouraged too much by that because there are so many obvious mistakes one has to run risk of, but it is regularly executed by people with genuine organizational (more value here than programming) skills. I may have said, elsewhere, that I believe the origins of the web are so forgotten almost that few realize just how much control one can have so easily. But further to that thought, it is obvious that the first instinct of far too many novice technicians, has been to corral their skills in the pursuit merely and ultimately only of control over others, by way of their still limited command of the technology. As a accomplished author, you understand the power of language. Programming is language. The World Wide Web, the outcome of a deeply literate understanding of the need of language by its creator. The WWW, and all within and about it, is a language that is designed to express openly, and engage communication. This is why those who sought to only control people and their communication, failed all but a few, and some see gatherings of giants even now, once again.

            Personally, I do not miss the inability to link outwards. But I believe it has served a very high purpose, through your blog, in particular when many came here seeking clarity on legal affairs, which were hard to precis and indicate even, in summary. Moreover, without the ability to link to outside documents, your contributing commenters, those who have a argument they can support and explain, lack a vita tool to put their case. Indeed, sadly, commons are often tragedies. I even see how lacking links has ensured I pause, consider the material I might link to, and recreate the argument I wish to put, I only hope for the better. But it removes a genuine source of value, and that value only accrues to you and your blog, and you only need make that technical call, so that in a rare and very valuable instance, we might all benefit from the best of both worlds of opinion.

          2. typo, sorry: some see the *falterings* of giants, even now.

            I mean that the giants have bled a *language* dry.

            People like yourself, in a world where the only remaining bulk or articulate argument on the open web is again majority if not bulk technical, only this generation is cowed and interested only in supplication to or avoiding the oft inadvertent, frequently disguised as inadvertent, tramplings of the giants, you represent a last voice. I can but exhort you, if you will grasp and even in borrowed words, adopt as your own, from the last breaths of a free and uninhibited tongue, this technology once gave.

      1. That’s all theory about exhaust systems – but valid for normally aspirated engines only. Not for turbocharged. Cam profiles from turbo engines are totally different to non-turbos.

        1. Exhaust back pressure is power sapping/costs power.
          A road going engine is always fitted with a silencer, a silencer is always a compromise between noise loudness and minimum back pressures.
          Racing engines does not use silencers, they use tuned extractor exhaust systems.
          A NA formula one engine will have ZERO exhaust back pressure, in fact it will always have over extraction.
          BUT, a formula one turbocharged engine will, (1) never sound as load as a NA ENGINE, because the turbo turbine housing will always act as a sort of silencer, (2) will always have some back pressure because of the work the exhaust have to do inside the turbo turbine housing, in fact the so called “qualifying mode” when in use it will add approx an additional 35hp by running with the exhaust waste gates open (exhaust bypassing the turbo turbine) and the turbo compressor is being spooled by MGU-H, which in turn it will be sharing ES (battery power) with the MGU-K. THIS MODE IS CALLED “electric turbo-supercharging”.

      2. Do you thing that they run their engines on the dyno with a different exhaust than that used on the car?.
        Do you think that a F1 engine maker doesn’t fully understand all there is to understand as regards the exhaust system?.
        The present PU MAX torque output happens at much lower RPM than that of their MAX power output.
        A forced induction engine needs different camshaft configuration than a NA engine, and will run as minimum valve overlap as possible.
        A forced induction engine will have an exhaust pressure at least 0.5bar higher than the charge boost pressure.
        A change of camshaft (track specific) is not possible (RULES).
        Since at least the start of the NA 3.0L V10 engines, the camshafts were not changed for track specific camshafts.

      3. Thank you Joe for printing my views on Hondas problems, it appears Hasegawa-san concurs with the view on airflow in and out of the cylinders.
        We know of the efforts made by the fuel suppliers to improve combustion in racing car engines and as a practical example adding 1:200 parts 2-stroke oil to Diesel Fuel significantly reduces engine vibration and improves tractability of Diesel engines. To simplify that’s 100ml of 2-stroke oil to 20 litres of Diesel Fuel.
        If that is possible on a road going Diesel engine it shows the significant role that the fuel can play in an engines function, especially the part it plays in vibration.

    2. Torque peak is not at rev maximum. And with turbocharged engine no cams are changed. These engines produce more torque than theoretically needed. In Monaco it’s all about throttle response characteristic. Turbo lag needs to be minimized. With one large single turbo like used since 2014 turbo lag is bigger than with two smaller ones, but ERS helps to reduce it.

  57. Mclaren has no position, if Honda leaves they are broke….no sponsers to mention.

    I know the solution for sure….mclaren and Honda need to place their factory outside of Italy.
    There are to many Italians in the team also! It is chaos and cannot work that way…way to much Italian ways in that team….OH wait…

      1. For sure McLaren is not broke but are the owners willing to make up the financial shortfall if they forsake Honda? Me thinks not after all never throw good money after the bad. Also feel the chassis is not up to the class of Mercedes and Red Bull. What are you hearing about the actual car Joe?

      2. People seem to speak as if they know it all, outcome forgone.

        I don’t get this, then.

        If outcome is forgone, why speak?

        I only want to raise my voice if I feel somehow even in the most remote, butterfly stamping way, I might be heard, and a undesirable course altered.

        If that is the sense others have, they want to speak to avert what they see is wrong, which sometimes I sense but lost somehow, not forthright, often the speakers cautious almost to silence, why then we must all figure how to say so more clearly. I am perturbed by the apparent situation. My extreme extrapolations may be simply fear at work, exaggerated as much by needing to place emphasis where so little is given to be understood. Here in the world of words on screens, the tail may easily wag the dog. But I would not ask forgiveness, if I am wrong, from whom I may have misunderstood, provided my meaning and wish was a good desire. I very much want to be wrong. Much more often. My father could have passed at least a screen test, for Cassandra’s more masculine role. He was regarded with quite some wariness, as a result. I learned from that, that if one fears, one must combat that fear immediately with positive suggestion. The positive may take longer to drum up, but it is always the most powerful force, in action. People don’t study it in the way I see, which is that positive life has a habit of not being observed in operation, because positive humans are outward looking. So failures, navel gazing, is overly studied. McLaren are in a bind, at least en passant. It may be simply en passant. May it be so. But if they are unaware of such a reality, they must know whence they came, and if that is related to very senior misdirections, or miscalibrated direction, that needs to be known. The beauty of Laurel and Hardy, to me as a child, was that when Laurel got them into another mess, he was not disavowed and cast aside. Sometimes a mess is just a mess, and we humans seem extraordinarily good at taking it all too seriously. Which exacerbates the wrong points. We laugh most often when we do not understand something, or understand a joke because of a different understanding than the words or act convey. My father taught me that even the act of forcibly laughing at a calamity, forced the mind to think differently, and better. It works. I shall fall asleep tonight in a silent comedy prayer that McLaren can laugh at their misfortune, and awake again, with a new perspective, and new abilities arising from cleansed minds. I shall try the same, myself, it doesn’t sound such a bad idea…

  58. I’m a bit late to the party here being number 110 but I’ll throw in my two cents / pence anyway ;

    1) Methinks all the ‘ press , reports and speculation about McLaren switching to Mercedes is a lot of click bait [ censored ]

    2) I’m seriously wondering in light of the milage covered if McLaren/ Honda might be pulling off the sandbagging con of the century

    We’ll see

      1. Which ‘ they ‘ are you referring to ? The ‘ they ‘ press .. or the ‘ they ‘ McLaren/Honda ?

        If its McLaren/Honda I have no doubt you’re probably right as that comment was pure ‘ speculation’ on my part .

        If its the press though … well … to borrow the words of the Bard [ Randy Newman ] – ” I may be wrong now … but I don’t think so “

        1. I understood, “No they are not … sandbagging”.

          I think I can get away with saying Joe’s view of the decline of the media industry is sufficiently well known that it surprises me you mistook the reply. Maybe you preferred not to draw further attention to the idea, sandbagging to be clear, being somewhat preposterous.

  59. This is one of your best posts. Something to think about for those who think you could just simply ditch Honda by snapping your fingers

    1. It’s a Ice Cold In Alex post.

      sometimes reading the general media, can feel like a travail across the desert, dirty subterfuge, unknown territory, subfaction warfare and all!

      1. McLaren’s Dilemmas

        Due to added pressures in my métier I’ve been unable to make a contribution to this interesting thread (except, of course much earlier.). Concerning the McLaren – Honda saga, I would argue that a few added reasons for their inherent tensions stemmed from various, unfortunate perceptions created by McLaren. These include:
        • McLaren, publicly, was too over-elated with their reunion with Honda
        • McLaren, too vastly, over-hyped its expectations that Honda would almost instantly enable it to return to their glory days.
        • McLaren failed to take into account, or had deliberately chosen to ignore Honda”s ‘sub-par performance in its subsequent re-entry into F1.

        Obviously the inherent brains at McLaren have not given much thought to that fact that the pursuit of a Mercedes means that they would be lowering themselves to the level of Force India, Wait, that they would be aspiring to fill the spot vacated by Manor. …And the beat goes on…

        Re: Ouch: I do crave the indulgence of our host to express a few personal viewpoints: Undoubtedly Joe’s Blog, (if I may take the liberty re a assessment), provides a venue where serious minded individuals may visit to be informed, submit a comment/post as well as engage in the loss art of fine dialogues regarding F1. Of all the visitors/posters to this Blog, one person does stand-out. His name is JoJ.

        JoJ, without a doubt, is a very prolific writer whose impressive clarity of thought, first-rate prose; fluidity is most notable for their elegance, cogency and grace. His impressive body of work has earned him the respect and admiration of all. There is no doubt that he sets the benchmark to where others aspire.

        However, he has been quite unfair by continuously moving the goal post. So even when trying to race at the speed of Bolt and Hamilton combined, it seems like regressing.

        Laudable comments aside, JoJ must be prepared to receive, from time to time, some “Ice Cold”; blistering; hard hitting, yet, constructive feedbacks & rejoinders. This, he’s well aware, is par of the course.

        There is no doubt at least two major sins have been committed especially the incredible ‘Ice Coldness’ of one party’s ‘heart.’ Sufficient grounds do exist to feel totally, “Ice Cold” & aggrieved. Of course indulgence may be available. And the convening authority, despite being so “Ice Cold” may be persuaded

        One of the most powerful speeches ever articulated, renowned for its eloquence and awe inspiring impact – ( pleading for leniency) was articulated by Portia in Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice. In the case Portia pleaded to save the life of her client, a complete arse. She said:
        “…The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle from Heaven. Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes…” *(excerpt)


        I conclude with Wm Blake:

        [Commencing today,] “And throughout eternity I forgive you and you forgive me.” (Italic mine)

  60. What are the chances that Alonso will continue with McLaren in 2018 or beyond if the car can get reliability sorted and start chasing top 6 results in races? I don’t really see where he can go that won’t be a step down from McLaren.

    Red Bull are unlikely to change drivers any time soon.
    Mercedes might if Bottas doesn’t work out, but he is a safe pair of hands in the #2 role.
    Would a return to Ferrari be possible? If Kimi retires this year?
    Maybe Renault will get their act together and provide a solid works team in the near future?

    Despite the problems, I think Alonso is stuck with McLaren, just as McLaren are stuck with Honda. They just need to solve things quickly and get on the pace. Easier said than done, but at 36, Alonso can hardly start a new chapter again. It’ll be fascinating to see how this plays out for him. I always hoped he’d race at the front versus Hamilton again. It’d be a shame if we never saw that battle happen again.

    1. I think your first question answered itself. I mean, by giving a date by placing next year in question, you are asking will Alonso stay if this year looks properly promising. Just the time to adjust, and the reliability and longevity of advantage in F1 recently, all argue that if this season feels right, FA will enter next year in a orange car. Hopefully with a more optimistic orange color variation, on the pain, as well.

      Had FA lots of time, he could go anywhere, I guess. His presence and skill s worth a fortune. It would be most valued further down the grid. That imaginative idea might seem like making the same mistake twice, but he shall be informed, one presumes, quite how hard the slope is now, to clamber skywards. I think the hill has become considerably harder to climb, very lately. But if he cared only to get hold of even a irregularly reliable but truly promising car, enough to forget his salary, the money he would bring, he could get paid handsomely by sponsors on results enough above their other deals with the team, to compensate adequately, provided he felt the chances favor him. A pink car, might do well, and the pink car team is deserving some top name talent and attention. Pity their association with anyone but who is pretty in pink. That disassociation is however accelerating, and a ceremonial break might even be acceded to as a term to welcome a incoming giant in F1. If that man still has any equity, he would be wise to get properly scarce, should the team land chances this big, as I daydream. A true champion driver showing what the continent midfield can do, now that would do a lot of good, I think.

  61. What a good advertisement for F1’s current engine regulations this is.

    Are F1’s current engine manufacturers making huge gains in Hybrid technology on the road thanks to their F1 endeavors? No, relative to their non-participating competitors there is little difference
    Are manufacturers queuing up to join Honda in building these technological marvels as was hoped for? No, of course not
    Do the fans enjoy the new formula? Well I can’t speak for everyone but I have only been three races in the new error (sorry, era) a significant reduction from the past 20 years and have no future plans to attend (much to WRC’s advantage)
    Are the teams better off? Is the competition better off? Is the spectacle better, or sponsors queuing up to be a part of it, is it a huge and visible technical challenge for the drivers allowing the driver to overcome a car disadvantage to show the adoring fans what they are really made of? An emphatic no to all of the above.

    It has been said many times that it’s too late to change, so let’s just get on with it.
    How many times have we heard that recently when willfully making situations far worse than they already were?

    1. I am beginning to think that even while the appearance of Ross Brawn in dutiful capacity at Liberty, is hailed by all, he is not the right man. We need someone to at last draw out the connections from F1 to the wide world. I’ve said plenty tonight, so will spare debating more detail, but it is high time we had someone who is downright positive, appreciating what good stories need telling until hoarse, and telling once again. Those stories would factually compensate pretty well, for all the pointing out supposed failures you just did. It’s not right to cal failure when nobody saw what the actual object was to achieve. This is just a problem with having thousands of engineers vital to the show. Their focus is inwards, so complain nobody is marketing the benefits, is a bit harsh. Liberty, too, well they need to hire to fill a communications gap that is utterly yawning. True, things are not great, but this is forcing a accusation of failure onto functions, tech, and organization, never tasked with succeeding in what you say failed. That people need galvanizing and tasking to address what you see as failures, is in no doubt. Asking how and why, to do positive things, nearly always call out a dry well, humans just better at denouncing the negative. But this is a new thing, for F1 to do. Everyone is learning the first words in a new country. Yes, things changed that much. People only have to try, better try early and carry on unheeding the complaints, so long as trying, the words will sound right soon enough. When at last everyone is talking, it will be a proper party. Till then, try, and try, and i can understand if those busy trying, are blinkered to any negativity of any kind. But i sure hope they are trying what I hope they will try.

  62. An article last week quoted Honda as being “100% committed” to McLaren. In the US, that would normally be “dog whistling” the exact opposite. Perhaps Honda does not know that and were saying it straight. And if Honda is out of the cultural slang loop, maybe it’s not surprising that they are out of the power unit design tricks and tips loop as well.

    All the other engines are European, designed by engineers who spread the knowledge over beers, change teams, and who knows what else. With Honda doing its own thing in a seeming vacuum, maybe there is some crucial information or technique they are forever doomed to lack.

  63. A bit late, but all this talk about European engineers. Does anyone recall a certain Porsche engine in an Arrows. It appeared to mimic an earlier Honda design.
    McLaren used five different types of engines in ’66/67 including two iterations of the Indy V8.
    The current woes can imho be attributed equally to both parties. They both knew what they were getting into and what the risks were.

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