Toro Rosso seems to be the key to the outcome of McLaren-Honda’s looming divorce, as the team has imposed a 6pm Sunday deadline for a conclusion.
The easiest way McLaren can split with Honda is if Toro Rosso takes over the engine supply, keeping the Japanese carmaker in F1 and freeing up the Renault deal for McLaren.
“Our priority is success as a factory team,” Renault advisor Alain Prost said at Monza.
“If we had to supply four teams, it becomes very difficult for us with resources.”
So as the talks hit their highest gear, the heavyweights descended on Monza.
Honda’s Masashi Yamamoto touched down from Japan, for talks with all sides — including the FIA and F1’s owners Liberty Media.
“There are a lot of talks at the moment to find a solution that everyone can live with,” said F1 chief Ross Brawn. “We want Honda to remain in the sport.”
Even FIA president Jean Todt is at Monza, admitting: “I’ve had talks with Honda. I really hope they stay.”
It is believed the Frenchman thinks the best option is that McLaren simply stays with Honda.
“We know the rules — that no manufacturer can equip more than three teams. And changes of engine manufacturer must be announced before 1 June,” he said.
“We have a team that already has a contract. Basically I do not want to talk about facts that are a bit unclear, but I will do everything I can to find a solution that keeps everyone involved in the sport,” Todt added.
Another heavyweight at Monza and obviously involved in the talks is Flavio Briatore, who oversees the management of Fernando Alonso’s career.
It is believed the Alonso camp is campaigning hard for McLaren to dump Honda.
“We have a very good feeling with McLaren,” Briatore said. “Let’s see what they are doing with the engine.”