27 September 2019
A big story coming...
It is quiet in the F1 paddock in Sochi. The F1 circus has been flat out for the whole of the month of September with four races in five weekends, but beneath the surface things are bubbling away.
The word is that there will soon be a major announcement with McLaren ending its relationship with Renault and moving to become a customer of Mercedes, its long-time partner in the 1990s and 2000s. The logic behind the move is pretty sensible. If you cannot have a factory engine of your own, the best thing to have is a customer supply of the best available engines.
The team's relationship with Renault, which was agreed when McLaren needed an alternative to Honda, has been a step forward, but it has been fairly clear that if Renault F1 continues on its upward development path, McLaren will inevitably be behind the factory team in the longer term, because of the advantages that come from the integration of the chassis and engine design in the modern age.
The management at McLaren has also changed significantly, with Andreas Seidl coming in as team principal, with different ideas aboyt how to make the team more competitive. Customers are always at a disadvantage even if their power units and software are the same. Thus it is better for McLaren to use Mercedes engines than for them to use Renaults, on the basis that these are more competitive and might allow McLaren to score results that will one day attract a new manufacturer.
Obviously, in accepting such a deal, Mercedes will gain some more political power in F1, will do more business and get some more return on the investment that has been made in its power units, while clearly not being too worried about McLaren being a threat.
If the deal is confirmed it will mean that Renault will have no customers, which will help the French crew to focus on what is required to move up the ladder.
Watch this space...