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Formula 1: the game of musical chairs between McLaren, Renault, Honda and Toro Rosso rebate the cards

Ⓒ AFP – Manan VATSYAYANA – | I said he would await McLaren’s decision on a change of engine before taking his on his future: Fernando Alonso, on September 15, 2017 in Singapore

The Formula One cards for the upcoming seasons have been revived with the announcement Friday of the game of musical chairs between McLaren, Renault, Honda and Toro Rosso.

Renault will provide from the 2018 season of Formula 1 and until 2020 its engine to the British team McLaren, which separates from the Japanese engine manufacturer Honda.

At the same time, the French engine manufacturer has indicated that it would end the current season’s conclusion to its collaboration with the Italian team Toro Rosso, which will now be equipped by Honda. Spanish driver Carlos Sainz Jr, currently with Toro Rosso, will join the Renault team in 2018.

“This is a strategic decision for Renault Sport Racing,” said its president Jérôme Stoll.

“This is the first time we have worked with McLaren and we are proud to have reached an agreement with a structure that has such a history in Formula 1,” he added.

Honda and McLaren, partners since 2015, said in a joint statement that they had decided to separate “by mutual consent” when their partnership ran until 2023.

This divorce was expected due to lack of convincing results, especially this season when the defects of the Japanese engine proved to be particularly glaring.

The replacement of Honda by Renault should have the effect of convincing the double world champion Spanish Fernando Alonso, at the end of the contract, to extend to McLaren.

– Honda to Red Bull? –

This sleight of hand also satisfies Liberty Media, the US owner of the F1, who strongly wished that four engine manufacturers remain involved.

The Japanese group, desirous to stay in F1 despite a chipped image, agreed to break his engagement with McLaren in anticipation because he got to equip Toro Rosso in 2018, instead of Renault.

“This is a very exciting challenge and I hope both sides will benefit in their mutual development,” commented Franz Tost, boss of Toro Rosso.

If the Honda engine shows significant progress next year, which is far from being done, this collaboration paves the way for another from 2019, with Red Bull.

The sister team of Toro Rosso is unhappy with the reliability this year of the Renault engine, which is also less powerful than those of Mercedes and Ferrari.

And Renault is open to a disengagement to privilege its own stable, which must increase in power by 2020, and thus stop providing a direct competitor to the podium.

In the longer term, Red Bull could turn to 2021, with the planned introduction of a different technical regulation, to a newcomer, such as Porsche or Aston Martin.

– Gasly approaching –

Carlos Sainz Jr., 23, will leave Toro Rosso in seven races to take the place of Britain’s Jolyon Palmer at Renault.

Ⓒ AFP – MOHD RASFAN – | Carlos Sainz Jr., on September 15, 2017 in Singapore

“Being a Formula 1 driver for the official team of a manufacturer is an honor and I hope to meet the confidence of Renault with very good performances on the track,” said the son of former champion world of rallies.

Renault will therefore have two leading drivers with Hülkenberg and Sainz Jr, which was not the case with Palmer, which was not very efficient.

The French team was tempted to part with the latter from the Malaysian GP in 15 days but his contract of paying pilot and threats of legal prosecution have dissuaded him.

The departure of Carlos Sainz Jr paves the way for a arrival in F1 of another French driver in the person of Pierre Gasly, from the Red Bull sector.

His horizon was so far blocked at Toro Rosso, where Sainz Jr.’s team-mate, Russian Dannii Kbyat, was in fact about to be extended despite disappointing results since Red Bull’s demotion.

Gasly, 21, however, must be wary of the Japanese Nobuharu Matsushita, which could be taxed by Honda to Toro Rosso in return for the supply of its engine.

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