Honda has shot itself in the foot repeatedly over the 2017, and there’s just no telling if there’s any coming back from it.
The Honda problem has been going on for quite some time. Ever since the venerated Japanese manufacturer teamed up with McLaren back in 2014, the partnership was hailed as a return to the glory days that the two once shared.
Unfortunately, the future that both McLaren and Honda had hoped to pass has been all but obliterated in the face of their struggles. Honda has failed to provide an answer for their severely underpowered and unreliable engine, and all their compatriots are past the point of losing patience. When the head of the racing team is calling your own engineers “lost”, you know you’ve really screwed the pooch on this one.
Perhaps, however, the most frustrating thing is how Honda has come off during the entire ordeal. Statements issued by their F1 chief, Yusuke Hasegawa, have appeared to be nothing more than just the canned PR responses that one puts forward to mitigate as much possible damage. The manufacturer genuinely looks like it is doing its best to prevent a total meltdown internally.
McLaren’s team principal Zak Brown had his resolve eroded over the months, and a normally joyful disposition turned to one of grim dourness as the calamity escalated – going so far as to say that the mode of operation they adopted had become “depressing”:
“[On subsequent Honda-induced penalties: It’s pretty depressing for all of us. Starting at the back before you even get the weekend started, is not how we can go racing.
All we can keep doing is pushing for developments. Nothing changes today – it just increases the frustration. But as we’ve said, we’ve got to get our act together, and it’s one more race that we didn’t.”
– Zak Brown
Honda is fast approaching its deadline, as many see the F1 summer break as the last chance that the Japanese manufacturer will have to right their crooked ship before McLaren gives them the boot and sends them packing. It’s hard to say how these events will shape the future of Honda. McLaren is sure to go on and find a more capable engine supplier, but given the fact that Honda’s engine woes are occurring in IndyCar as well, there are going to be a lot of red flags raised in alarm.
Only time and a concerted effort on their part can redeem Honda in the eyes of the Motorsport world. There is a long road ahead of them – and they’d best get started on it.