Sky Sports reports that, an announcement confirming McLaren’s split from Honda may be imminent and could be made as early as this week.
McLaren told Sky Sports it is “very likely” Fernando Alonso will remain at McLaren for next season.
Neither Alonso nor Stoffel Vandoorne finished Sunday’s Italian GP with the team describing the result as “gut-wrenchingly disappointing”.
“We need to get more competitive,” McLaren boss Zak Brown told Sky Sports F1 after the race. “This weekend showed we’re not making any significant progress.”
The talk in the paddock was of a deal, likely to be sealed in the next two weeks before the Singapore Grand Prix, for Honda to switch to Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso and Renault to replace them at McLaren.
A well-placed source told Reuters news agency – that seemed to be the direction all parties were heading in, with benefits for all concerned.
McLaren meets Renault chiefs at Monza
A meeting at Monza could have decided the fate of the McLaren-Honda relationship.
Ahead of the Italian grand prix, Renault chiefs Alain Prost and Cyril Abiteboul were spotted leaving the McLaren motor home, flanked by F1 boss Ross Brawn.
The big rumour is that a deal has effectively been done between Renault and McLaren for 2018.
“I have just come from the engineers meeting so now I will try to find out a little about what has happened,” Fernando Alonso is quoted by Spain’s Marca newspaper at Monza.
McLaren is now under intense pressure to make a decision about splitting with Honda or not.
That is because Toro Rosso could inherit the Honda deal, in order to keep the manufacturer in F1 — something Liberty’s Brawn is pushing hard for.
The Toro Rosso-Honda deal would then free up the customer Renault engine deal for McLaren.
“We need to decide in September — probably the beginning of the month,” admitted McLaren executive Zak Brown.
However, Toro Rosso’s deadline could be even more urgent with that, amid reports the Red Bull junior team wants to know its engine plans by 6pm on Sunday.
“I think everyone’s under time pressure,” Brown responded.
“As McLaren we don’t need to make any decisions this weekend, but I cannot talk about the situation at Toro Rosso.”
Honda is said to contribute $100 million a year to McLaren, but after three years of struggling Brown said the team’s decision will be taken on “sporting” grounds.
But Brown is also not ruling out staying with the Japanese company.
“Honda is putting in additional resources and doing various other things that I can’t tell you about. But I believe you’re aware that they’ve taken on the help of a number of consultants.
“Next week we will get together and examine Honda’s plans and after that we will decide,” the American added.
The outcome of that will also affect Alonso’s decision, with Brown admitting McLaren is working on a “plan B and plan C” in the event that he leaves.
However, he said impressive younger Lando Norris is not one of those options.
“No, our plan is to let him drive Formula 2 next year,” said Brown.