by H. Mayor – photo: f1.com | What seemed like an impossible compromise just a few weeks ago is now on its way to become a reality. A strategic move which is sure to alter in one way or another the future order of the Grid. After the agreement reached between McLaren and Renault some days ago, it seems that the other axis of the process is starting to loosen up: different online news sites suggest that there is already an agreement in place between McLaren and Honda to go separate ways, which will be announced over the next few days. But it doesn’t end here: Toro Rosso, Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso are also key pieces of this puzzle.
There are different parts to the greatest operation in F1 this season. Its core purpose is for Renault to become McLaren’s engine supplier starting next year. This should in principle imply a qualitative step forward which would make the Woking team competitive again … and would also be key to convince Fernando Alonso to stay in the team. The twice champion has let on his willingness to remain loyal to the British scuderia as long as they can guarantee his ability to compete at a higher level, even more so after the disaster of the current year. The change of supplier (which will come at an increased cost for the team) represents that surety that is needed to earn the Spanish driver’s trust.
Money, although to a lesser extent, will also be something to discuss at Alonso’s renewal negotiations. Will his expensive contract be up for review?
Until confirmed otherwise, the engagement McLaren-Honda remains to be signed off. Both parties seemed to approach positions during the past Monza Grand Prix as long as the Japanese manufacturer moves on to supply Toro Rosso next season. The former cannot happen without the latter as Honda would never contemplate being left out of the paddock next year.
It is because of this, that the agreement McLaren-Renault carries an implicit compromise for a Honda-Toro Rosso partnership to start collaborating from next year. An agreement which obviously entails a break up with Renault so that they are free to start their new venture with McLaren.
And then there is the question of the drivers: several sources point out to any accord including the move of Carlos Sainz to Renault to form a solid couple with Hulkenberg. Some even suggest that this move could take place this very season as Carlos Sainz is lacking any meaningful support in Toro Rosso and Renault has lost its trust in Joylon Palmer.
There are many pieces in this puzzle and all inexorably linked to each other. Now there is just the wait for Honda and McLaren’s announcement to set it all in motion.