Ron Dennis insists Honda partnership is the only way for McLaren to win
"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," says Dennis
By Pete Gill and James Galloway
Last Updated: 30/09/15 7:59pm
Ron Dennis has rounded on McLaren's critics and insisted their partnership with Honda is the team's only possible means of returning to the front of F1.
The former superpowers of the sport have been reduced to minnows on the track this season, undermined by the inadequacies of the unreliable and underpowered engines delivered by their new partners.
But despite the mounting despair at their team's struggles, which culminated in Fernando Alonso branding their performance at the Japanese GP "very embarrassing", Dennis remains adamant the philosophy which underpinned their decision to reunite with Honda is sound - and the pain will, eventually, be worth it.
"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," said Dennis.
"We have to go through this pain and go through this learning curve and get a competitive engine."
Few doubted the wisdom of McLaren's decision to swap a customer supply of Mercedes engines to become the exclusive recipients of Honda's units when the deal was announced. But the depth of Honda's struggles, still as acute in late September this year as they were last November when the McLaren-Honda reunion endured a disastrous first date, has been a shock.
"Nobody could have foreseen that the revived partnership would still be this bad at this stage of the season - not the fans, not the drivers, not Honda, and not McLaren," wrote Sky F1's Martin Brundle last month.
But Dennis insists his faith in the partnership has not wavered. Perhaps more pertinently, he has also revealed that Honda, stung by their struggles, are ready to throw money at the problem.
"Honda are totally committed," Dennis told reporters at Suzuka. "They understand what needs to be done. They are increasing resource, and putting in more more money and more effort. We will get there. It's just a bit painful at the moment."
Under the strain of their ongoing on-track struggles, cracks have appeared in the relationship between the two parties. McLaren's offer to provide hands-on assistance to their engine partners has been rebuffed and relations with Honda chief Yasuhisa Arai, savaged at a media briefing at the start of the month, are said to be strained. But Dennis continues to maintain that McLaren and Honda, who dominated the sport in harness 20 years ago, are in it together.
"There have been extremely constructive conversations, the way you build things and relationships is by coming together, understanding and working together. There's nothing positive to come out of public criticism," Dennis added.
"I don't think there is any doubt that every level of Honda knows the challenge of F1 and knows exactly where we are at the moment.
"We have tried to move forward faster and that has affected reliability and made the whole thing more challenging. This very acute pain we have inflicted on ourselves is the fastest way for us to get back to where we need to get to."
Don't miss the F1 Midweek Report on Wednesday night at 8.30pm when Ted Kravitz and David Brabham join Natalie Pinkham to discuss the Japanese GP