McLaren remains fully committed to working with Mercedes-Benz 'for many years to come', Jonathan Neale has asserted – with no fears inside the team that as F1 prepares to enter a bold new engine phase, it will no longer be on an equal footing in comparison with the three-pointed star's works entry Mercedes GP.
From 2014, the top flight will ditch V8 power in favour of turbocharged V6 units in an effort to enhance its 'green' credentials, and with Red Bull Racing having recently reaffirmed its relationship with Renault – prompting Christian Horner to claim that his squad is now the 'factory' Renault outfit in F1 – and Ferrari and Mercedes GP developing their own engines in-house, one school of thought is that McLaren could find itself at a disadvantage, particularly with its Mercedes deal set to expire the following year, in 2015.
Dismissing suggestions that the Woking-based operation might be evaluating a switch to Cosworth or former BAR team principal Craig Pollock's new PURE initiative – or even developing its own powerplant – Neale insists that the collaboration with Mercedes is an 'intimate partnership' and one that benefits from McLaren's full 'focus'.
“The assumption that we are not working as closely with Mercedes would be incorrect,” the McLaren Racing managing director underlined during a pre-Singapore Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes Phone-In Session. “We have a long relationship with Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines at Brixworth and make a good team together.
“Certainly, we are working very closely with them ahead of 2014. Our job – like theirs – is to make sure Mercedes have the best engine on the grid and are the best-prepared [for the new regulations]. [Playing second fiddle to Mercedes GP in terms of priority] is not a concern or issue for us at all. We all want Mercedes to have the best engine in 2014, and if they can draw upon the technical contribution and know-how of their partners, that should only make them stronger.
“I don't feel in any way that we are being disadvantaged or held at arm's length. Mercedes-Benz will do a first-class job for us. I can give a cast-iron guarantee that our intention is to stay with Mercedes and their engines as we make the transition. We very much like working with them, and want to do so for many years to come.”