Williams-Mercedes: Mclaren Stuck With Renault?

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Williams extend their customer agreement for power units with Mercedes till 2025. This means that in the time to come, the ‘engine silly season’ may not be as entertaining as the driver silly season.

Barring an unexpected exit from Renault, I expect engine relationships to be constant. This is how things should look till 2024/25. 

  • Ferrari – Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Haas
  • Mercedes – Mercedes, Racing Point and Williams
  • Renault – Renault and Mclaren
  • Honda – Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso

The one team that could be caught out here is Mclaren. Their form is on the upswing & would it be the lack of a competitive power unit holding them back? It could be the Red Bull scenario repeat for Mclaren, where the energy drinks funded team had a competitive chassis but couldn’t find itself a competitive power unit. Yes, early days in Mclaren’s resurgence, but the chassis-power unit mismatch comes faster than one can think. Who is to say that Mclaren couldn’t have done better this season if they had a better power unit? Also in this case, Renault’s power unit hasn’t impressed in 2019 or the seasons before. (Read: Renault Exit A Blessing For Hulkenberg?)

But, will Honda want to reunite with Mclaren & if so, will Red Bull Racing permit? Let’s remember, Mclaren (Ron Dennis, 2015) veto-ed Red Bull Racing’s interest in Honda not too long ago. For Red Bull Racing and understandably so, they wouldn’t want Mclaren to bear fruits of their hard work with Honda. After all, a competitive Mclaren could enter the championship fight with the current top-3 teams and if you can leave rivals out via politics why not opt for that route? (Read: What Formula 1 Can Learn From Red Bull)

Will we see Mclaren-Mercedes return to Formula 1 again? It will depend on Mercedes’ ability to supply to a 3rd customer team, if at all. Likewise for Ferrari too. & of course, in the case of Ferrari, Mclaren will have to swallow a lot of history & pride. This is why the current ‘engine formula’ has played in favour of the power unit manufacturers. Ferrari & Mercedes can control the competitive quotient of the grid. By limiting access to their power units (something the FIA doesn’t actually permit), they are deciding which teams can be competitive or not.

In the case of Williams, they have to pick themselves up. For 2 seasons in a row, they have finished last. This is despite having championship winning power units in their car. In George Russell, they have a fast driver. However, their 2nd seat options could be better – for now, they have only Nicholas Latifi & Robert Kubica to choose from. The problem also being that their car will only attract limited talent. Yes, the vicious circle of Formula 1. (Read: Ocon-Renault Contract Only A Piece Of Paper)

Unless of course, Romain Grosjean or Nico Hulkenberg are left without a cockpit and decide to finish their final years in the sport at Williams. Hopefully Pascal Wehrlein doesn’t leave a competitive seat in Formula E to fight at the back of the field in Formula 1.

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