McLaren-Honda said and done: How the relationship unfolded in quotes
Ahead of McLaren's final race with engine suppliers Honda, we chart the change in language prior to a tough divorce...
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 22/11/17 11:10am
Yasuhisa Arai (ex-Honda F1 chief), September 2014: "I have confidence that we will match Mercedes. I trust - I am a firm believer - that we will win races next year."
Ron Dennis (ex-McLaren boss), October 2014: "[Honda's engine progress] is mindblowing, the engine is a piece of jewellery. They are further ahead than expected. The competitiveness of the engine is without question."
Eric Boullier (McLaren racing director), October 2014: "We will be one of three works teams on the grid next season with our new engine partner and that will be a game changer. McLaren will be back and winning with our new engine partner. We will become a very attractive team today, even if we don't have a fast car we are on the way to recovering this."
Eric Boullier, November 2014: "There is a huge potential. The commitment of Honda is absolutely huge and we have a very good preparation strategy, so we are on a good path. To win a championship you will have to be a works team."
Fernando Alonso (McLaren driver), December 2014: "We have time, we have hopes and we have the necessary resources. Let the legend return: that is our challenge."
Jenson Button (ex-McLaren driver), December 2014: "Like Fernando, I am certain that McLaren and Honda will achieve great things together and I feel sure that, working together, all of us will pull incredibly hard to create a brilliantly effective winning team."
Jenson Button, February 2015: "We are not going to have a race-winning car at the first race, but we might have one at the last race. We're not in for another tough season, every time I get in the car - everything feels right."
Ron Dennis March 2015: "If your objective is to win a world championship, you have to have a strong OEM [original equipment manufacturer] behind you which has the technology and capability to produce a winning engine - and that's what Honda has, they've proven it many times. It might take a bit longer than we would like but we are on the journey and we will see it through to the end."
Jenson Button, March 2015: "I don't know how long it will take, but this is the package that I feel will challenge Mercedes. I really do think that. This car is very important to the future of Formula 1."
Ron Dennis, May 2015: "I've said it before and I'll say it again: we have a mountain to climb, but climbing it we are and scale its summit we will. That I guarantee. McLaren and Honda share a passion to win in Formula One - we've done it before and we'll do it again. When it comes to power unit design and manufacture, Honda leads the way - globally. Their managers and engineers know their Formula One power unit isn't yet the best, but it will be. They know that and so do we. So do our drivers - that's why they want to drive for us. And that's why a lot of other drivers want to drive for us too, as it happens."
Ron Dennis, July 2015: "Our commitment remains to win the world championship. That requires you to have laser focus on each aspect of the car, and everything has got to be the best of the best. Neither Honda nor ourselves expected the challenge to be quite as difficult as it has been. But they started with a clean piece of paper, not just in terms of the engine but also the research and development facilities, which are completely new. We know this is a very big challenge, but we are making good progress. Honda have made so many engines over the years that I know we will have one of the best, if not the best.
Ron Dennis, September 2015: "I can't understand why everybody doesn't appreciate the simple fact that you aren't going to win a world championship if you have a second-string engine - it's just not going to happen."
Fernando Alonso, September 2015: "This is the only team that will challenge Mercedes in the near future. But right now it is tough times because we don't have the toys to fight with them."
Fernando Alonso, September 2015: "No one should have any doubt that I have three years with McLaren and my career in F1 will end with this team, hopefully winning everything."
Jenson Button, October 2015: "Hopefully next year will be a year when people can challenge Mercedes and that is what Lewis [Hamilton] wants as well. It is nice winning an intra-team battle and winning the world championship, but having another team to fight against is what everyone wants to see and I think Lewis does as well. I'm not sure that team will be us, we will do our best and we will see what we have at the first race, but in 2017 hopefully that will be us fighting at the front with two or three different teams."
Fernando Alonso, November 2015: "I had five fantastic seasons at Ferrari but l finished second and l needed a new motivation and a new project which l could trust and which would be the only way to become champion again."
Eric Boullier, December 2015: "You cannot beat the world champion if you are a customer - it is impossible. The path to go with another engine manufacturer to be a works team was absolutely the way to go."
Eric Boullier, February 2016: "We will probably always have a kind of unbalanced situation between Honda and McLaren in some ways, but one thing completely unifies us: McLaren wants to win tomorrow - and Honda the same. Now it's all about matching each other's expectations."
Ron Dennis, April 2016: "We believe in Honda, and we will achieve with Honda, it's just taking a little longer than we would have liked."
Ron Dennis, May 2016: "I honestly believe that the next world champions after Mercedes will be McLaren, we'll get to that goal before other people. It is challenging but I have a firm belief in the technical competence of our people and a firm belief in Honda."
Fernando Alonso, May 2016: "Will we be the first to stop Mercedes' domination? I don't know yet but it's quite possible. Red Bull are a top team but not having a big engine manufacturer in this F1 is tough and Ferrari will always be competitive but always maybe missing the last bit."
Yusuke Hasegawa (Honda F1 chief), May 2016: "Not all the problems at McLaren have been due to the power unit. All parties need to improve in order to win the world championship next year. We have a plan to challenge Mercedes in 2017. We are working to have a competitive car so that Fernando Alonso can win."
Fernando Alonso, May 2016: "I feel happy inside because I see the commitment and I see the project that one day will win. If that day will be in the short term or medium term or long term, I don't know. But this partnership McLaren Honda will win one day."
Eric Boullier, July 2016: "I think we have improved as a team. A couple of years ago there was a lot of pressure, but the relationship is good now. If you compare Mercedes, Renault or Ferrari it took them three years to improve their engines. It's taken Honda less time, but we're getting better and in my opinion we are already as good as Ferrari in terms of reliability, we are back in terms of energy, we have more speed, more engine power and the responsibility of McLaren is to keep improving."
Jenson Button, September 2016: "The power unit has moved on a lot, but also with the deployment. We've probably got the best deployment out there."
Zak Brown (McLaren executive director), December 2016: "Everyone is very excited. I've been walked through the car in detail, and now seen all the reports from this year's car and where they have found areas of improvement, so everyone is feeling very bullish going into next year."
Eric Boullier, February 2017: "There's a feeling around the factory that we're about to turn the corner."
Zak Brown, March 2017: "We have a long-term contract. We have won a lot of championships with them, they have the right people, we have the right people, so we are going to work through it together."
Fernando Alonso, March 2017: "Right now, to be honest, McLaren-Honda is for me the only challenger of Mercedes in terms of fighting for the world championship and stopping the domination of the Mercedes team in the recent years. I don't think I will switch teams anymore."
Zak Brown, May 2017: "The plan right now is to have the Honda in the back of the car. We're happy with the direction they're going and it's just going to take some time.
Mansour Ojeh (McLaren shareholder), June 2017: "We've never been so uncompetitive in F1. We did have a terrible year with Peugeot, but this time around Honda has completely underestimated the job."
Zak Brown, June 2017: "I don't want to get into what our options are. Our preference is to win the world championship with Honda. But at some point you need to make a decision as to whether that's achievable. And we have serious concerns. Missing upgrades, and upgrades not delivering to the level we were told they were going to, you can only take that so long. And we're near our limit. A year in Formula 1 is an eternity. Three years is a decade. And you just can't go on forever."
Yusuke Hasegawa, June 2017: "From the results point of view, of course we need much improvement from the performance and reliability point of view. So we will do everything. We need to do everything."
Zak Brown, July 2017: "We're a big team that knows how to win races and championships so I think most of the teams, while it's a shame to see where we are, they like us where we are. They don't want to get us too close to them which is understandable. We ultimately think that Honda can get the job done, they have in the past. We need to make sure the development comes at a faster pace."
Zak Brown, August 2017: "Fernando doesn't have as much confidence in that power unit so we need to show him pretty quickly, or specifically Honda need to show him pretty quickly, that they are going to make some drastic improvements."
Fernando Alonso, September 2017: "I am extremely happy here and l believe we could have the package to win a championship. The team has improved a lot in the last three years from the time l arrived here. We have the talent, we have the facilities, we just miss being a bit more competitive - which is the most important bit. But we will see what the numbers say for next year and after that l will make a decision."
Zak Brown, September 2017 - after split is confirmed: "For a combination of reasons our partnership has not flourished as any of us would have wished. It is certainly not for the want of effort on the part of either Honda or McLaren, but the time has come to move ahead in different directions."
Eric Boullier, September 2017: "The crucial moment was after the Barcelona testing. When we tried to work and help Honda to improve the situation in a very short time, including having discussions with the other engine manufacturers, and without going into details, it became obvious that they again would miss the target that we had agreed for the season. Then by the summer we knew that we had to take a decision, to stay or not to stay. When you look at the last three years it's been a proper disaster for us in terms of credibility and getting new sponsors,"
Masashi Yamamoto (head of Honda motorsport), September 2017: "Working with McLaren, I've realised that they are a very big company which is very systematic. It's obviously very strong because of that but at the same time they can find it hard to adapt to change. Compare that to Toro Rosso, it is a company that is growing. Take this for an example: If we compare both teams with different cuisines, let's say McLaren is a very sophisticated French cuisine, that's the way it is. Then Toro Rosso is more like a countryside, homemade delicious stew where you can add new ingredients."
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