Honda’s Formula 1 boss Masashi Yamamoto believes that the manufacturer had too much respect for McLaren and vice-versa during their three torrid years in partnership with the team in the turbo-hybrid era of the sport.
McLaren managed just two podium finishes in their last two years in partnership with Mercedes in 2013 and 2014, with Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen ending in the top three in the Australian Grand Prix of the latter year.
They made the decision early in 2013 to switch to Honda power for the 2015 season, as excitement brewed.
McLaren had won 15 races in five years powered by Honda, claiming four straight championships between 1988 and 1991. Similar form and a return to glorified dominance for McLaren was vastly anticipated by fans, but the dream reunion quickly turned into a nightmare.
They managed just 31 points finishes in 61 races between 2015 and 2017, with their best finish arriving through a P5 from Fernando Alonso in Hungary in 2015.
The Spaniard took aim at Honda frequently throughout the tenure both over the radio and in the media, and McLaren would eventually switch to Renault power for 2018.
The Woking-based team would later switch back to Mercedes power in 2021.
Yamamoto wishes the partnership worked, but thinks that excessive respect between the parties led to poor communication from the start.
“Starting from McLaren days, we have learned a lot from them but we think we had a mutual respect too much. That’s why we had maybe a shortness, a little bit, of communication and then it was a shame the project didn’t go well,” Yamamoto said, as per Motorsport.com.
Honda remained in the sport following the termination of their McLaren project, supplying power to Toro Rosso in 2018. Following a trial year with the Red Bull junior outfit, they began powering the senior team, Red Bull Racing, but will now depart ahead of the 2022 season.
Red Bull, who won the Drivers’ Championship this year with Max Verstappen, have bought the intellectual property of Honda’s F1 power unit and they will begin making their own PUs from 2022 onwards.