Dropping 'toxic relationship' with Honda was McLaren's best move - Brawn

McLaren F1 team. Image: TeamTalk
McLaren F1 team. Image: TeamTalk

Formula 1 managing director, Ross Brawn, says McLaren’s decision to drop Honda in 2017 was necessary to help them discover their own flaws.

The Japanese manufacturer returned to the series in 2015 as they looked to rekindle their dominant days with McLaren, but ultimately the relationship would turn out to be anything but dominant.

And after three years of power and reliability issues, McLaren announced that Renault would become their engine supplier from 2018.

But while McLaren have improved leaps and bounds since, claiming P4 in the 2019 Constructors’ Championship, so have Honda.

In 2019 they would power Red Bull to three race wins in their first season together, while their junior team Toro Rosso, now AlphaTauri, also took two podium finishes in their second year with Honda.

Finding the flaws

Despite the improved fortunes for Honda though, Brawn believes the same only happened for McLaren because they were able to break away from what had become a toxic relationship and find their own flaws.

As quoted by Motorsport.com, he said: “They’ve got some sensible people there now, and it took them a while to recognise that. People say they made a big mistake getting rid of Honda. But, I think funnily enough they almost needed to do that to recognise what they needed to do with the team.

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“They were blaming Honda all the time and I think they would recognise now that wasn’t true. That wasn’t everything. And in getting rid of Honda and getting a benchmark, they recognised they had to do something with the team. I don’t know how they would have come to that conclusion unless they put an engine in the back of the car that somebody else was racing and somebody else was doing well with.

“In doing that they recognised then that they have some bigger problems other than just the engine and they had to make some changes. And I think they have made some very sensible changes.”

Winning by 2023

McLaren have set 2023 as the target for when they want to be winning races again, at which point the 2021 regulation changes should be firmly making their mark in the series.

And Brawn believes that even though some midfield teams wanted the cost controls to be even stricter, they will nonetheless benefit greatly from them.

He said: “They’re very challenged economically. That’s part of the problem. I know there’s a little bit of frustration from some of the teams that the cost controls aren’t lower because I think we had to put them at a level that was manageable for the top teams. But it will still be a dramatic change for the top teams in terms of the change of their structure and so on.

READ: McLaren hopes 2021 budget cap will close gap to Top 3 teams

“I think that very process will bring some more parity between the midfield and the top teams in F1. So I think there’s a brighter future for the same midfield teams. The new commercial deal is much more equitable. The prize money is much more fairly distributed among the teams.

“So those teams, some of them are going to have a substantial increase in their prize money, making their economics more sensible.”

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