McLaren Formula 1 Team Agrees To End Partnership With Engine Supplier Honda
McLaren Formula 1 reportedly "reached an agreement with Honda to be released" from its partnership and switch to Renault power from the '18 season, according to Freeman & Rencken of MOTORSPORT. Honda's return to F1 with McLaren "has been disastrous" since it came back to the grid in '15, with a "lack of performance and constant reliability problems." Sources close to the deal confirmed that McLaren agreed to a three-year deal with Renault, taking it to the end of the current F1 engine regulations cycle in '20. It is understood McLaren "will get parity on power unit specification with the works Renault team and fellow customer Red Bull," while Toro Rosso's deal to switch from Renault to Honda -- "freeing up a supply for McLaren" -- was also signed (MOTORSPORT, 9/13). In London, Oliver Brown reported Fernando Alonso is expected to re-sign at McLaren after the team "finally decided" to ditch its Honda engines. The Spaniard "has made clear throughout his contract re-negotiations that his stay at McLaren would be conditional on a change of engine supplier," and his wish "has at last been granted." McLaren and F1 had been loathe to "let Alonso turn his back on the sport, and the double world champion has duly been offered a minimum two-year contract extension" worth at least £20M ($26.4M) a year, in line with his present terms (TELEGRAPH, 9/12).
BOTTAS STAYING PUT: In London, Giles Richards reported Valtteri Bottas signed a one-year deal to race for Mercedes in '18. He has "won twice this year and although expected to maintain his drive, the team had held off." The one-year deal allows Mercedes to keep its options open, with Daniel Ricciardo contracted at Red Bull until the end of '18 and Max Verstappen contracted with the same team until the end of '19. The 28-year-old "joined Mercedes at short notice at the start of this year" after current world champion Nico Rosberg "shocked the team by announcing his retirement" (GUARDIAN, 9/13).