McLaren cagey over reports decks cleared for 2015 engine move from Mercedes to Honda
Reports have suggested McLaren have let 2015 Merc option lapse
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 14/05/13 10:09am
Suggestions the Woking team are poised will end their long association with Mercedes at the end of next season have gathered sustained pace in recent months amid reports that Honda are gearing up to a return to F1, as an engine supplier, for the first time since they quit the sport at the end of 2008.
A report in Germany's Auto Motor und Sport publication last week claimed that McLaren had until the end of April to notify Mercedes if they wanted to continue using their engines into 2015, an option which they have not taken up.
Asked directly about the story by reporters following Sunday's Spanish GP, Whitmarsh refused to confirm or deny the report, simply suggesting the matter was confidential.
"The discussions about '15 are between myself and Mercedes and not for newspapers," he replied.
Asked when their 2015 plans might be made public, Whitmarsh added: "Certainly before 2015 - I'll promise I'll tell you before then!"
The article in the German press also added that while McLaren - who previously partnered the Japanese giant to dominant effect between 1988 and 1992 - would likely receive Honda engines for free as the works operation from 2015, Sauber and Lotus had also expressed interest in potential customer deals.
The expected high customer cost of the new generation V6 turbo engines, which will make their debut in the sport next season, continues to prove one of the major talking points in F1 and Whitmarsh, who also serves as the chairman of FOTA, said it was imperative all 11 outfits found viable supply deals for 2014.
"Everyone's working hard on the new engines," he said. "I think the biggest issue is the cost of them is very challenging to the sport but everyone is still committed to it and we've got to make sure that everyone gets there and that all of the teams can afford and have an engine supply next year."