McLaren considering dropping Honda for Mercedes
According to various sources McLaren boss Mansour Ojjeh has been in touch, informally, with representatives of the German carmaker to discuss a possible change in 2018.
McLaren F1 cars powered by Mercedes engines. It would be some bombshell to hit the sport if it turns out to be true. According to 'Auto Bild', later corroborated by the BBC, Mansour Ojjeh, who owns a quarter of Mclaren and has a great relationship with the main owner, Bahrein investment fund, Mumtalakat Holdings, has had contact, briefly and informally, with Mercedes, to discuss the possibility of the German manufacturer supplying the engine for McLaren's F1 cars in 2018.
McLaren have had a dismal start to testing, with the Honda engine at the root of many of the problems. Some have even gone as far as to suggest the car will struggle to finish the opening race in Australia on 26 March.
McLaren and Mercedes: no comment
Neither team nor engine supplier were willing discuss the issue, but McLaren race director Éric Boullier admitted to AS this week that: "with Mercedes we'd be winning again". What's not clear is whether Mercedes would be willing to sit down and negotiate with McLaren or not.
McLaren moving to Mercedes not that simple
Beyond the possibility that Ojjeh did or didn't speak to Mercedes, McLaren would face difficulties if they want to change suppliers. First of all is the contract they've signed with Honda, which runs to 2021. They'd also lose the vast pot of cash the Japanese firm sends their way: well over 100 million euros a year. Not only would they lose funding, they'd need to pay some 18 million a year to Mercedes to use their power plant.
Would Mercedes accept McLaren using their engine?
The other main obstacle is whether Mercedes would agree to supply their engines to a direct rival on the track, and there is no clear information to answer that either way. And even if McLaren did persuade Mercedes to supply them with engines, the team would need to find a sponsor with seriously deep pockets, something that looks a long way off at this moment.