After another humiliating display by McLaren at the Mexican Grand Prix where two-time champion Fernando Alonso was forced to retire after one lap and Jenson Button finished a distant 14th, it emerged that Honda are keen to supply Red Bull, but unable to do so because team boss Ron Dennis holds a right of veto.
A Honda deal with Red Bull would also be welcomed by the sport‘s commercial ring-master Bernie Ecclestone and, many believe, help the Japanese company develop speed and reliability faster than by remaining a single-team supplier.
Red Bull have given notice they are ending their deal with Renault and have failed to reach agreement with both Mercedes and Ferrari for a supply of engines for next year.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said: “I haven’t spoken to anybody from McLaren other than Ron Dennis, who is the one guy who has the right of say there and his views were quite clear.
“Honda are very keen, but unfortunately they have a contractual status that is between them and McLaren that’s nothing to do with us. It’s for them to decide amongst themselves what they want to do.”
In the wake of another wretched weekend that saw Button given massive grid penalties – 70 places – for his power unit changes, one seasoned and highly-respected commentator, former British F1 driver Martin Brundle, said it was no exaggeration to say the team was “in crisis”.
Honda motorsport boss Yasuhisa Arai told reporters in Mexico that their situation towards Red Bull was “open”, but McLaren team manager Eric Boullier moved swiftly to quash this.
He said: “As a partner, we have to agree on the strategies. This is not a question of Ron saying ‘no’ and Arai-san saying ‘yes’ – there is no debate on this.
“Clearly there is an issue inside Red Bull, created by Red Bull and not by anybody else, and we are not a charity foundation . So, we are not here to help.”
Asked to sum up his experience in the race, Button, who missed Saturday’s qualifying session due to another engine failure, said: “Painful, I think, is the word.
“The straight-line speed that other cars have is just phenomenal It’s a massive difference and I couldn’t hold people behind me, even if I was in front of them – not that I was very often, unless they were pitting or lapping me.”
Spaniard Alonso said he opted to start the race, knowing his engine would fail, out of respect for the Mexican crowd.
“We had two possibilities, retire the car without even starting, or try our maximum, knowing that maybe one or two laps was the maximum we could achieve,” he said.
“We did one lap, for respect of the fans because they were amazing all weekend. It’s frustrating not even participating. Even if you are last — at least you are on the track.”
McLaren have won eight constructors’ world championships and 12 drivers’ titles since they first entered Formula One at the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix.
They have not won in 55 races dating back to the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix and have scored only one podium finish in that time. – Agence France-Presse