Honda intends to schedule meetings with McLaren over the course of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend – but the driver line-up for next season is likely to be off the agenda.
The engine supplier will return to F1 next year as it rekindles a partnership with McLaren that proved so successful in the late 1980s, with the first images of the V6 turbo power unit revealed yesterday.
The team’s performance in the last two years has been off-pace, and current drivers Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen may find themselves out of a job at the end of the season.
Honda will replace Mercedes, who ends its own 20-year relationship with McLaren in the process.
Button could yet keep his place and has said he is “pretty happy” that a new contract may soon be in the offing but Honda head of motorsport, Yasuhisa Arai, has confirmed he wants to talk to Ron Dennis at Suzuka, saying ‘nothing is decided’ for the team’s line-up.
“We are constantly talking about which drivers we would like to see,” he said. “Whilst McLaren is here in Japan it is only natural that we organise some meetings with McLaren. But I don’t think we will be discussing the topic of drivers, given that nothing is decided.”
This season could yet prove to be the worst for the team in 33 years as Button and Magnussen both push hard to prove they deserve to be behind the wheel of a Honda-powered McLaren next year, with Arai confident the Japanese motoring giant can make an impressive return.
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