Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has blamed McLaren for its failed partnership with Honda and said the team is unlikely to be any happier with Renault, ahead of an engine switch expected to be confirmed this week.
McLaren and Honda look set to confirm the end of their disastrous F1 partnership ahead of this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix, ending months of speculation about its future. The split will see McLaren switch to Renault power for 2018, while Honda will move into partnership with current Renault customer Toro Rosso.
The engine swap is part of a complicated jigsaw puzzle which has been coming together in the weeks since the end of F1's summer break and is likely to signal a contract extension for Fernando Alonso at McLaren. Though the Spaniard has denied issuing McLaren an ultimatum between keeping Honda and retaining his services for 2018, he dropped numerous hints that the solution required to keep him revolved around what would be in the back of the car next year.
F1's chairman emeritus Ecclestone, whose long tenure as boss came to an end this year with Liberty Media's takeover, is happy to see Alonso staying at McLaren but has questioned the logic behind the switch.
"The Renault deal is all done," Ecclestone is quoted as saying in the Daily Mail. "Alonso staying is super news. But I can't see why McLaren will be any happier with Renault than they are with Honda.
"It wasn't Honda's fault things didn't work out, it was McLaren's. Every day they had a fight about everything, instead of working with them, which was a little bit stupid."
In recent days a key part of the deal has emerged to be someone with no affiliation to either McLaren or Honda. Renault's main bargaining chip has been Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz, a driver the French manufacturer courted unsuccessfully for its factory team last year. Renault has agreed to release Toro Rosso from its contract -- therefore allowing the McLaren-Honda split to take place and the new partnerships to be signed -- as Red Bull has done the same with Sainz's.