McLaren’s executive director Zak Brown says his team gave Honda six months to find a turnaround to be competitive in 2018 and tried “many different things and many different ways” but when performance wasn’t forthcoming it gave the team no option.

After a tough start to its collaboration with Honda as its power unit supplier in 2015 and 2016 it became apparent the Japanese manufacturer’s new philosophy and design approach for this season hadn’t found the predicted gains. Worse was to follow during pre-season testing when McLaren was continually hit by reliability issues which were set to plague its F1 campaign.

With a frustrated squad, and a furious star driver in Fernando Alonso at a third straight year of fighting at the back of the F1 grid, Brown says McLaren gave Honda a six month deadline after pre-season testing to generate a sufficient turnaround in fortunes.

“We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we'd be much more competitive in 2018,” Brown told Sky Sports F1. “Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn't get there. Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top.”

With McLaren stalled by reliability issues and an underpowered engine, halfway through 2017 the decision was made in private to split from Honda which triggered its switch to Renault power units from next season. The Japanese manufacturer has found a new partnership with Toro Rosso in a multi-swap announcement made over the Singapore Grand Prix weekend.

Brown says McLaren were eager to see out its final few races with Honda with mutual respect and a small crumb of comfort came from five points finishes in the final seven races of the year. The McLaren executive director, who also believes Ron Dennis would have made the same call, says the Woking-based F1 team would never dismiss a return to working with Honda and is confident the two sides ended their partnership in a positive mindset.

“They are a great company with great people. The relationship was always strong and is still strong so wouldn't rule out racing with them again,” Brown said. “We wish them the best but we needed to make some tough decisions in our best interests. The relationship was a lot stronger than people anticipated. We worked hard together, we were frustrated together, but we never yelled at each other down to the end.”



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