Boullier: Honda eyeing customer team for 2018

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has confirmed a long-running rumour in the Formula 1 paddock about engine provider Honda.

The Japanese manufacturer has been reportedly in talks to supply Sauber with a customer engine in 2018. Boullier revealed this week that McLaren was no longer insisting on exclusivity, and would be open to such a deal.

“We will provide support in finding a customer,” Boullier told German publication Blick this week.

“This year, Honda would not have been able. Everybody would have been weakened, but now things are different.

“But we have to make sure it’s not detrimental to our partnership with Honda,” he cautioned. “Whatever happens, we are partners, so at some stage there will be a second team, and I think we will have to support this.”

At the moment, Honda’s development plan is being hampered by limited track time and feedback from only one team. Their rivals Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault get data from three Formula 1 teams to aid development.

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“More teams is better, more teams running is better definitely,” agreed Boullier. “[But] there’s always a price to pay for that, which is obviously deviating our resources to maybe build more engines.”

As a result, Boullier believed that McLaren was currently still better off for the time being as the exclusive focus of Honda’s F1 programme

“I think we have a more or less clear path where to go,” he said. “I think we have something falling into place.

“We need first to have this recovery plan,” he insisted. “Three years in a row being where we are, it’s not possible now. We have to break through and step up.

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“Then we can let’s say focus, or decide on another team supporting us.”

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