McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown remains confident the decision to cut ties with former engine partner Honda was the right decision for the team’s long-term future, saying its 2018 struggles were not rooted in its power unit.

McLaren parted company with Honda after three difficult seasons at the end of 2017, switching to a customer Renault engine partnership in a bid to improve its on-track fortunes.

Top 10 of F1 2018 Moments

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While McLaren managed to rise from ninth to sixth in the constructors’ championship, it failed to record a race finish any higher than fifth, and spent the latter stages of the season often struggling towards the back of the grid.

Honda became Toro Rosso’s engine supplier for 2018 and enjoyed an improved season of performance, paving the way for a deal with the front-running Red Bull team that will start in 2019.

Asked if there were any regrets over the decision to break ties with Honda, Brown expressed his confidence that it remained the right call for McLaren’s long-term future.

“We’re very happy with Renault. The challenges that we had this year were not power unit related, those were our issues,” Brown said.

“The power unit I don’t believe was our challenge this year.

“Honda, of course, continue to develop and do an excellent job. That doesn’t surprise us. I’m glad they’re still in the sport because I think that’s something that was being discussed by them internally.

“Renault ended the season with I think four or five podiums, won some races, so we are confident we made the right decision for our long-term future.

“To get a better race car on the track is the challenge that we have ahead of us.”

FIVE-YEAR PLAN TO RETURN TO VICTORY

Next March’s Australian Grand Prix will mark five years since McLaren last finished a race on the podium, with its last victory coming more than six years ago at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.

The team has undergone a number of significant changes in a bid to try and return to the head of the field, with a five-year plan in place to achieve success once again.

However, Brown once again stressed the importance of F1’s commercial rights holder, Liberty Media, going ahead with plans to introduce a budget cap in a bid to make the sport more competitive.

“I have just presented a five-year plan and within that plan, we think we have a journey to get back to winning races, and then once you’re winning races, you’re competing for the championship,” Brown said.

“I think it’s critical that Liberty makes the changes to the sport that we discussed earlier, because right now, the way the sport is going, it’s difficult for more than two or three teams to compete for the championship.

“I think there are things that are out of our control, but hopefully we can influence that need to change for multiple teams to be able to win races and compete for the championship.

“We have laid out a journey and investment, a road to recovery that sees us getting back to the front of the grid in that timeline."

 

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