McLaren executive director Zak Brown has admitted that his outfit’s relationship with engine partner Honda is nearing its limit.
Expectations were high from the Japanese manufacturer after its showed signs of progress last year. But instead of making even bigger strides in the third year of their return, it appears to have fallen even further behind its rivals.
McLaren is yet to score a point six races into the 2017 season, with an underpowered and unreliable
Honda power unit dragging down an excellent MCL32 chassis.
Brown has been further aggrieved as Honda has failed to bring its promised upgrade to this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.
"Honda’s working very hard but they seem a bit lost," Brown told Reuters.
"We were only told recently that we wouldn’t have the upgrade coming (for Montreal)...and we don’t have a definitive timeline, which is concerning because the pain is great and we can’t sit around forever.
"We were eagerly awaiting this upgrade as were our drivers and it’s a big disappointment that it’s not coming. It’s not lack of effort, but they are struggling to get it to come together."
Brown says they are now “serious concerns” whether Honda can deliver an engine capable of winning a championship.
"The executive committee have now given us our marching orders. He said. "We’re not going to go into another year like this, in hope."
"I don’t want to get into what our options are. Our preference is to win the world championship with Honda. But at some point you need to make a decision as to whether that’s achievable. And we have serious concerns.
"Missing upgrades, and upgrades not delivering to the level we were told they were going to, you can only take that so long. And we’re near our limit."
He added: "It will all come together. There’s lots of things that go into the decision and we’re entering that window now of 'which way do you go when you come to the fork in the road'.
Brown says that it is possible to win with a customer engine, suggesting there is a possibility of McLaren returning to Mercedes power in coming years.
The American also added that his outfit can afford to give up the financial package that comes with the Honda deal - worth around $100 million including supply of free engines - as lack of competitiveness is reducing its income from other sources.
"When you actually look at the impact of loss of FOM (Formula One payments) money and loss of sponsorship, it starts to diminish the commercial benefits of what Honda brings to the table," he said.
"And when you start to net it out, it doesn’t have quite the commercial benefit it might appear from the outside."