Mclaren Saved Formula 1 From A Honda Destruction


Formula 1’s engine politics could’ve gone all wrong for the sport. At the end of 2014, Red Bull Racing were denied a competitive Ferrari or Mercedes engine and did approach Honda for their power units. Luckily for them and for Formula 1, Mclaren vetoed a Red Bull Racing – Honda partnership. I shudder to imagine what Formula 1 would’ve been like had Honda powered Mclaren, Red Bull Racing and possibly Toro Rosso. We would’ve had six GP2 (or even worse!) cars racing in Formula 1 – a complete disaster! (F1 Cars, GP2 Lap Times)
However, there could be good news around the corner – for Honda, Mclaren, Alonso and for Formula 1. There are reports that Mercedes has agreed to help Honda recover from their irrecoverable slump. This is after Bernie Ecclestone alleged that Mercedes helped Ferrari catch up in the last winter.
But Formula 1 is a competitive sport. Would it be fair for Mercedes to offer help to Honda? Why can’t they offer help to all the slow teams? How about Renault – since they’ll be the only manufacturer not receiving Mercedes’ expert advice. Wouldn’t it just be easier to then give every Formula 1 team Mercedes engines? If not, then let’s give everyone Honda engines. That way, Mclaren won’t seem too slow! (The Joke’s On Mclaren)


I would assume that Liberty Media (and the FIA) are okay with this arrangement, especially if it delivers a close and competitive Formula 1. This will be good for the business and for us fans too. And such team arrangements aren’t new to the sport. But what will this do to brand Honda in the global automobile industry context? I’d love to know if there’s a research that indicates how much of a purchase decision is influenced by performance in Formula 1. (Formula 1 Wants More Car Manufacturers)
Finally, ‘God helps those who helps themselves’, but are Mclaren-Honda helping themselves? At the tyre test post the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix, the team lodged their best ever track session yet (81-odd laps) and went on to claim that they weren’t sure how and why they had such a good test. Maybe Mclaren-Honda have forgotten how to read data from fast cars!
Help or not, Sauber considering Honda engines for 2018 seems like a complete bonkers of a decision, at the moment.
Red Bull Gives You Wings, But Needs An Engine
The former World Champion team is pushing for independent power unit suppliers to be allowed in Formula 1. This could be true for two reasons. First, they don’t think Renault will be able to catch up with Mercedes and Ferrari (unless Mercedes extend their generosity to Renault too). Second, they know that a Ferrari / Mercedes customer engine package won’t power them to a World Championship. However, the current power unit suppliers, also the constructors, are keen to block such an entry to protect their business interests in Formula 1. Fair? (Help, Red Bull Needs Energy)
The sport’s politics interests me more than geo-politics that stars icons like Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and others. (Why Bernie Ecclestone Backed Donald Trump)

The Verstappen, Ricciardo & Sainz Battle

I’ve said this before and I say it again – Red Bull Racing will have the problem of plenty in their hands as contracts for 2018 come up for negotiations. They’ve three brilliant drivers and two cockpits. At this moment, all three of them can rightfully stake their claim to the faster Red Bull Racing cockpits. While a headache for the team, I get this feeling that whichever way this game unfolds, neither driver, nor their fans will be disappointed with the outcome. Will Bottas and Raikkonen help solve this mystery?
And while we’re on the Red Bull Racing-Honda talk, had they partnered, Max Verstappen’s talent would have struggled to come to the fore!

From Double World Champion To Indy 500 Rookie

Fernando Alonso is doing what it takes – on and off track – to achieve success at the Indy 500. His PR and social media team are making the most of the positive discussions around his switch while he’s gone and signed up Gil de Ferran as his coach. I am most interested in knowing more about his journey to the Indy 500 and if he will retire his Mclaren-Honda in the last few laps of the 2017 Russian Grand Prix if not in the points.
There’s also news about Alonso being badly advised in his career. If you study his moves, it would be difficult to disagree, but that’s always the case with hindsight! (Formula 1’s Unluckiest Double World Champion)

Formula 1 Missing Nico Rosberg?

The intense Vettel – Hamilton rivalry is slowly overwriting the Hamilton – Rosberg memories from 2016. However, the sport ends up reminding us of the reigning World Champion in its own little ways. First, Bottas was referred to as ‘Nico’ on radio in China and then last week, Jacques Villeneuve classified drivers into ‘Rosbergs’ or ‘Alonsos’! Is Valtteri Bottas making us miss Nico Rosberg?

Russia Under Pressure After Bahrain

Basis F1 Fanatic’s ratings, the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix was second highest in the history of all races in Bahrain. Let’s hope that Russia deliver on expectations too.
Will Mercedes back Lewis Hamilton outright as the battle intensifies? Will the cooler temperatures slow Ferrari down? Will Raikkonen and Bottas further strengthen their number 2 status? Finally, we could have a new team-driver combination win in Russia for the first time, so if you’re a fan, make sure you head to Sochi and watch the race from the stands.


Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton
Race: Vettel, Hamilton, Ricciardo
The bigger question though would be: Will Vladimir Putin visit the circuit even if his friend Bernie Ecclestone is absent?

Co-hosted by Mithila Mehta and Kunal Shah, the Inside Line F1 Podcast is a weekly show on Formula 1 that attempts to simplify the sport and business of Formula 1. This show also aims to add some much needed humour to the otherwise serious sport of Formula 1. In 2016, the show crossed 150,000 listens and was top-rated on iTunes and Audio Boom. The show is available on Kunal’s F1 Blog and partner websites such as Motorsport, Firstpost, NDTVAuto, Sport360, Sportskeeda, Scroll, Talking About F1, Motor Octane and others.

Kunal Shah is an FIA-accredited Formula 1 journalist who has been reporting on Formula 1 for nearly two decades. He worked with the Force India Formula 1 Team for 6 seasons in Marketing, Sponsorship and Commercial roles. As a former single-seater racer, he was responsible for Force India's grassroots talent program, One from a Billion Hunt. Presently, he co-writes a regular Formula 1 column for Firstpost, speaks on Inside Line F1 Podcast & Pits to Podium and produces broadcast/OTT content for NENT Group (Viasport & Viaplay).

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