Reports this week suggested McLaren executive Zak Brown has imposed a 90-day deadline for Honda to up its game, but Bild newspaper claims the real ultimatum is much sooner than that.
“Bild has learned that if the Japanese do not supply a competitive engine in the next few weeks, McLaren will not end the season with Honda.
“In two more races, McLaren and Honda could divorce,” it added.
Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport claims that because McLaren is bound by contracts, it is applying huge pressure so that it is Honda that decides to terminate the deal.
In Canada, Fernando Alonso said he is not surprised about Brown’s Honda ultimatum.
“What Zak said is what you expect,” said the Spaniard. “Things have to change for the team, and the same with me. So if you don’t see things changing, maybe you change projects.”
Indeed, it now seems almost certain that Alonso will not renew his contract beyond 2017.
“We have to win,” he said. “If we are winning before September or something like that I will make a decision and I will stay.”
So with the prospect of McLaren-Honda divorce now looming, it means Sauber could find itself as the factory Honda-powered team in 2018.
“We are not discussing this,” team boss Monisha Kaltenborn said in Montreal.
“We do not know what the situation is with Honda and McLaren, and it’s not our business. We are engaged in a very different project that has nothing to do with McLaren,” she added.