McLaren insists that it is fully focused on a future with current partner Mercedes-Benz, despite recent speculation linking it with a switch to Honda.
Although McLaren and Mercedes-Benz's relationship has shifted from equity partners to customers in recent years, with the German car manufacturer's primary efforts now on its own works team, there appears to be every intention for the relationship to continue. McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale said Wednesday that talk of the team working toward a Honda deal was incorrect, and that there is every intention of it continuing its tie-up with Mercedes-Benz.
"That is all wide of the mark," said Neale about the Honda speculation. "We are very happy with and enjoying our partnership with Mercedes-Benz. We are not quite sure where that story came from, in truth. But I can stop the rumor and say that we are entirely focused on our Mercedes-Benz relationship. It is a long one, spanning many wins and championships and long may it continue."
When asked if there was some worry that McLaren enters an era as only a customer team, while Red Bull Racing has full works backing, Neale said: "I don't think that's a concern. Of course, Mercedes has its own team and it is right and proper that a degree of focus is going in that direction. I have just been talking this morning to Thomas Kerr at Mercedes-Benz – we speak frequently – and we want the same thing.
"It's in our interest to have a consistent engine. Thomas was pleased Mercedes got six cars in the top 10 in qualifying on Saturday in Abu Dhabi. They take real pleasure and delight in that, as they should. And, of course, we like to beat them all as well, so that worked well for us. They are formidable technical partners and we enjoy that relationship."