While it’s believed that McLaren still has a right to veto Honda taking on any additional teams as an engine supplier, the Japanese manufacturer remains keen on expanding their F1 client base.
At the same time, Honda remains completely focused on their partnership with McLaren, for this season and beyond, though work on its UK base which was completed in the summer, points to the future.
“We don’t have any room to provide any resources to another team but we should be that type of manufacturer,” said Honda chief Yusuke Hasegawa. “We have to prepare more resources and organization. Maybe at the end of next year we have to say that we are ready to prepare an engine for another team, so we will prepare the organization.”
Hasegawa goes on to confirm that Honda have already finished the factory in Milton Keynes (a larger one) and that if they decide to prepare an engine for a second team they just need to hire the appropriate engineers.
Compared to their performance in 2015, this year, McLaren-Honda has been a highly competitive mid-tier team, with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz pointing out that their engine is getting very close to last year’s Ferrari unit. Now, Hasegawa thinks Honda is “a little bit better than the old Ferrari engine,” though still quite a way off from 2016 Renault and Ferrari units, not to mention Mercedes.
According to Autosport, the Honda chief confessed that more than one McLaren rival has expressed interest in one of their engines as far as a long term future deal is concerned.
Either way, we’ll still need to wait at least another season to see which teams might officially favor a 2018 or perhaps a 2019 Honda engine.