Canadian GP: Ross Brawn admits offering to help Honda

Formula 1


Live text and audio commentary of final practice and qualifying are live on the BBC Sport website on Saturday

Formula 1 technical and sporting boss Ross Brawn says he has offered to help McLaren’s engine partner Honda with its performance problems.

Brawn told BBC Sport: “I have had some discussions with them to see if I can help them have any clarity on what they need to do for the future.”

His remarks come at the end of a difficult week for Honda, in which it has been heavily criticised by McLaren.

McLaren executive director Zak Brown said: “Something needs to change.”

Brown had already said on Wednesday that he had “serious concerns” about Honda’s ability to succeed in F1 and that the company appeared “lost” when it came to solving its problems with performance and reliability.

The team have scored no points this season and McLaren cars have finished only four times in 12 races.

Honda F1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa said: “It is very difficult. It is very unfortunate we cannot convince them we can do that. From the results point of view, we demand much improvement. We need to do everything.”

He added: “It is obviously a frustrating current situation and we are disappointed with our results so it is no wonder there is some complaining comments.

“But the things we can do is try our very best for the team and we are aiming to go in the same direction.”

Brawn added: “We value Honda as part of the sport and if we can do anything to support their efforts to improve for the future we will do that.”

Asked about Brawn’s comments, Hasegawa said: “I appreciate his comments and I will ask him if we need his support.”

He’s helped them before: Brawn took over the old Honda team in 2009, after the Japanese manufacturer pulled out of the sport because of the credit crunch

Will McLaren and Honda split?

There is growing speculation that McLaren and Honda are nearing the point where their partnership will become untenable.

The pair have a long-term contract but Brown has shifted from McLaren’s previous position of being “100% committed” to the partnership.

He said in an interview with BBC Sport on Friday at the Canadian Grand Prix: “The plan right now is to have the Honda in the back of the car (in 2018) but some things need to happen between now and then for us to have the confidence we can be at the front of the field next year.

“We need to get competitive and show regular signs that we are getting competitive.

“Right now, we’re not racing well, not finishing races and that can’t happen any more.

“We are starting to work on the 2018 car so we need to make any decisions that impact 2018 by the summer break. Something needs to change. If you keep doing the same thing, you are going to get the same result. Maybe take some risks, do things they wouldn’t normally do. Can’t keep doing the same thing and expect things to change.”

He added: “We have a plan B, a Plan C. We have some plans.”

At least one of those options is an approach to Mercedes to use their engines on a customer basis next year.

Happier times, sort of: McLaren and Honda formed a dominant partnership in the 1980s – Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, however, did not

What about Alonso?

McLaren-Honda’s lack of performance is threatening their hopes of persuading two-time champion Fernando Alonso to stay with them next year.

Brawn ruled out the F1 Group playing any role in trying to find the Spaniard a competitive car in 2018, as former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has been known to do with drivers in the past.

Alonso said on Thursday that he would stay at McLaren if they were winning by September but that if they were not “maybe it was time for a change of project”.

Brown said: “We want Fernando Alonso to stay. If we are not fortunate enough to keep him then we will find someone else.

“We have a lot of races between now and September so we will just focus on getting back up the field. That’s what he wants and we want.”

British Grand Prix future

Brawn’s partner on the commercial side of the F1 Group, Sean Bratches, said he was confident of securing the future of the British Grand Prix despite the threat hanging over the race.

Silverstone has strongly hinted it will activate a break clause that would end the contract after the 2019 race if F1 does not reduce its fee.

The track’s owners the British Racing Drivers’ Club has until this year’s race next month to action the clause.

Bratches said: “We are in conversations with the British Grand Prix and the team there and we are optimistic of having a long-term future of having a grand prix in Great Britain.

“We have three years to the last grand prix under the contract. So there is a lot of things that can happen in that period of time, notwithstanding what happens in the next three weeks.”

One likely scenario is that Silverstone will activate the break clause next month but that talks will continue between the two parties aimed at securing the future of the race beyond 2019 on the basis of a new contract.



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