McLaren ex-boss Ron Dennis 'would have dropped Honda engines too'
Zak Brown reflects on McLaren's momentous 2017 and 2018 prospects in exclusive Sky F1 interview. Watch in full for free below
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 18/12/17 11:37am
Ron Dennis would have also decided to split from Honda were he still in charge of McLaren, according to Zak Brown.
Dennis, McLaren's legendary former chairman and team boss, was a staunch advocate of their works engine partnership despite Honda's failure to find a performance breakthrough since returning to F1 in 2015.
Dennis declared in May of that season: "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."
The McLaren-Honda years: In quotes
But after being ousted from a management role at the end of last year, Dennis severed his McLaren ties in June after selling his 25 per cent shareholding in the company he first joined in 1982.
McLaren's remaining shareholders and new-look management team subsequently opted to exit their lucrative Honda deal for a customer supply of Renault engines from 2018 - and Brown, McLaren's executive director, believes Dennis would have ultimately come to the same conclusion.
"I think he would have," Brown told Sky Sports F1's Rachel Brookes in an exclusive wide-ranging interview on McLaren's difficult 2017 and future prospects with Renault in 2018.
Watch in full in the video at the top of the page.
"He was here when those conversations were ongoing and I think Ron always has and always will have the best interests of McLaren in his heart, he is Mr McLaren.
"It burns him inside as much as us not to see us winning races."
McLaren did not formally confirm their Honda split until mid-September, but began exploring alternative options as early as March after a dismal pre-season with the Japanese firm's 2017 power unit.
"We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we'd be much more competitive in 2018," explained Brown.
"Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn't get there. Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top."
Despite the trials and tribulations of the last three Honda years, in which the eight-time constructors' champions have twice finished ninth in the standings, Brown insists there is no animosity between the two parties - to the point where they could even one day renew vows for a second time.
"We're very grateful to Honda," he said.
"They are a great company with great people. The relationship was always strong and is still strong so wouldn't rule out racing with them again. We wish them the best but we needed to make some tough decisions in our best interests.
"The relationship was a lot stronger than people anticipated. We worked hard together, we were frustrated together, but we never yelled at each other down to the end with our barbecues in Japan and our Abu Dhabi [champagne] toast."
Sky Sports F1 is the only place to watch every Formula 1 Grand Prix, qualifying and practice session live in 2018. Get Sky Sports F1.
Comment below to get involved in the debate, but please adhere to our House Rules. If you wish to report any comment, simply click on the down arrow next to the offending comment and click 'Report'.