There was an understandable fanfare when it was revealed that arguably two of the greatest names in Formula One history were getting together again in a bid to recreate the glory days of the late 80s and early 90s.
Unfortunately it was not to be, and rather than re-establishing one of the great partnerships, McLaren‘s hybrid era collaboration with Honda turned out to be one of the sport’s biggest disasters.
As debacle followed debacle, McLaren eventually cried “enough”, and opted to part company with the Japanese manufacturer after just three seasons together.
A couple of years down the line and the Woking outfit claims its best championship result since 2012, while Honda powers Red Bull to three victories and Max Verstappen to third in the Drivers’ Championship.
Whether McLaren should have been more patient and given Honda a little bit longer, we shall never know, but F1 MD, Ross Brawn, who enjoyed title-winning success with Benetton, Ferrari and his own team, which subsequently morphed into the all-conquering Mercedes outfit, believes the Woking team made the right call.
“They’ve got some sensible people there now, and it took them a while to recognise that,” said the Briton.
“People say they made a big mistake getting rid of Honda. But, I think funnily enough they almost needed to do that to recognise what they needed to do with the team. They were blaming Honda all the time and I think they would recognise now that wasn’t true.
“In getting rid of Honda and getting a benchmark, they recognised they had to do something with the team,” he continued. “I don’t know how they would have come to that conclusion unless they put an engine in the back of the car that somebody else was racing and somebody else was doing well with.
“In doing that they recognised then that they have some bigger problems other than just the engine and they had to make some changes. And I think they have made some very sensible changes.”
McLaren subsequently switched to Renault, the manufacturer that Red Bull was to ditch following a troubled relationship in favour of Honda, while the Woking outfit will join forces with another old flame, Mercedes, in 2021.
Talking of teams going through a bad patch, Brawn expressed his fears for Williams, another championship-winning outfit that in the eyes of some now appears to be in free fall.
“It is a concern,” he said. “Williams has had a couple of very poor years, and you can’t carry on like that. Sponsors will leave, drivers will leave.
“But you live in hope that they can pull it together because Williams is a great name for F1, with a great history. We don’t want to lose them.
“The more equitable prize money distribution will help them a bit,” he added, “but they can’t languish around the back of the grid forever. It won’t last.
“So we keep our fingers crossed that they’re going to do a better job in the next couple of seasons.”