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Honda engine rumours 'wide of the mark' - McLaren
McLaren has denied reports it is looking to enter into an engine partnership with Honda in 2014.
A report over the weekend in Auto Motor und Sport said McLaren was looking to enter into a works engine deal with the Japanese manufacturer when the new 1.6-litre turbo engine regulations come into force in three years' time. The two marques enjoyed a very successful partnership between 1988 and 1992 with four championship victories, but McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale denied there has been any contact between the two.
"That's all wide of the mark," he told ESPNF1 during the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. "We are wedded to, very happy with and enjoying our partnership with Mercedes-Benz. We're not quite sure how or where that [news] broke from in truth, but I can stop the rumours and say we are entirely focused on the Mercedes-Benz relationship. We've had a long standing relationship with them, with many wins and championships and long may that continue."
Mercedes-Benz has been supplying engines to McLaren since 1995 and became a shareholder in the team in 1999, but over recent years McLaren has bought that share back and Mercedes has bought its own F1 team. Reports suggest that McLaren will have to pay for its Mercedes-Benz engines from 2013 onwards, while its main rivals will have either a works engine deal (in the case of Red Bull) or in-house engine departments (in the case of Ferrari and Mercedes). But Neale insists McLaren, which has a supply deal with Mercedes-Benz until 2015, can still be competitive as a customer team.
"I don't think that's a concern," he said. "Of course, Mercedes have their own GP team and it's right and proper that a degree of focus is going to go in that direction, but I was just talking this morning with Thomas Fuhr at Mercedes-Benz - we speak frequently - and we want the same things. It's in our interest to have consistent engines together because that's how we get the highest quality.
"Mercedes managed to get six cars [using its engines] in the top ten in qualifying in Abu Dhabi, and they take real pleasure and delight in that and so they should. But of course we like to beat them all as well, so that works for us. We make a healthy technical contribution and they are a formidable technical partner in the engine stakes and we enjoy that relationship."