LONDON (Reuters) - McLaren, who scored their long-awaited first points of the Formula One season in Azerbaijan on Sunday, could have the future of their troubled relationship with Honda decided within weeks.
The small breakthrough on the track was a welcome surprise for a team that has been through the mill, but Racing Director Eric Boullier saw little to celebrate.
“Some points are good for the team but it’s not where we want to be and it’s even more frustrating,” the Frenchman said after double world champion Fernando Alonso finished ninth in a crazy race in Baku.
The former champions remain rooted at the bottom of the table behind Sauber -- who are currently without a principal and using a 2016 Ferrari engine.
For the second most successful team in the history of the sport, in terms of race wins, to have to wait eight races before scoring their first points of the campaign is deeply embarrassing and not something they want ever to repeat.
Whether the team and Japanese manufacturer stay together remains to be decided, with plenty of talk of impending divorce.
Boullier told Sky Sports television that while there was no firm date for a decision, “we say now it is a question of weeks.”
He indicated also that a temporary split had been considered.
“On paper, it’s actually a good strategy,” he said. “If you can run an engine and be competitive for the time being until Honda is competitive, why not? This is part of the various scenarios we may have considered.”
Alonso started 19th in Baku, thanks to an avalanche of penalties linked to the power unit, but the Spaniard reckoned he could have been on the podium, or even won, given all the collisions and retirements.
“I think we were able to win the race today,” he told reporters, even if he also considered scoring points to be ‘unreal’.
”We were behind (Red Bull’s eventual winner Daniel) Ricciardo on the safety car and then Lewis (Hamilton) lost the head rest, Sebastian (Vettel) had the penalty, Kimi was retired, the two Force Indias touched each other.
“So automatically you are on the podium, if not fighting for the win. We were in that position but we missed it because we were not quick enough in the race.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Hugh Lawson