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‘Something changed’ in McLaren-Honda divorce

After a tumultuous period in the McLaren-Honda marriage, the works collaboration now appears to be back on track.

Recent reports hinted that a divorce announcement was imminent, but the rhetoric has suddenly changed in Austria, where Honda has duly delivered the more powerful ‘spec 3’ engine.

It actually malfunctioned in Fernando Alonso’s car, but the Spaniard sounded oddly satisfied with having to revert to the ‘spec 2′ unit from Baku.

“From my grid position I can go into the points,” he said after the Austrian qualifying.

“We are constantly improving. The team is bringing aero parts all the time and Honda is bringing engine upgrades. We are moving in the right direction, we just lack reliability,” Alonso added.

Earlier in Austria, McLaren’s Eric Boullier, Honda’s Yusuke Hasegawa and Mercedes’ Toto Wolff sat together in the FIA press conference, and together denied rumours McLaren would be Mercedes-powered next year.

Now, Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda insists: “If we intervened in an existing contract by offering an engine, Honda could sue us.”

And so it seems that McLaren and Honda may have patched up some of their differences.

“The Japanese are being almost praised, even if another engine has broken,” said Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt.

“You do not have to be a mind reader to realise that something has happened in the last two weeks.”

Still, there are some reports that a McLaren-imposed deadline for Honda to up its game even more is still in play.

Marca sports newspaper quotes McLaren executive Zak Brown as saying: “In 2018 we must have a competitive engine.

“Honda is working and progressing and we want to give them room to improve. We’ve seen a good reaction from them,” he said.

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