'McLaren contacts Mercedes over engine'
16 March 2017 – McLaren has made brief contact with Mercedes about potential power unit supply, amid current partner Honda's ongoing reliability and performance troubles, according to reports.
McLaren-Honda, which reunited in 2015, endured another tough pre-season period, completing the fewest number of laps and finishing ninth out of 10 teams on the overall timesheets.
According to the BBC, McLaren is now evaluating its options for 2018 and beyond, and made an exploratory approach to German manufacturer Mercedes, described as "informal and brief".
McLaren used Mercedes engines from 1995 to 2014, a period which yielded the 1998 Constructors' crown, along with titles for Mika Häkkinen (1998 & 1999) and Lewis Hamilton (2008).
Any move would require McLaren to find a way out of its multi-year deal with Honda.
Eric Boullier recently opened up about McLaren-Honda's woes in an interview with Spain's AS, admitting that he did not expect so many issues and that the team risks losing Fernando Alonso.
"We're having more problems than we expected," said the outfit's Racing Director.
"We knew that we'd encounter some things [in testing], but truly not as many as we're seeing. We're always working to reduce the [number] of problems and to be able to go faster."
On Alonso's future at McLaren, Boullier added: "He wants to be competitive because he has talent to show the world and to himself, and we need to be competitive to keep him happy.
"If we're competitive he'll be happy and if not he'll take his own decisions..."
Amid the persistent troubles with Honda's new power unit, Boullier was also asked if a Mercedes-powered McLaren would be winning races today, to which he said: "I think we would."
Asked by GPUpdate.net for a response to the reports, a McLaren spokesman said: "Testing was challenging and disappointing. We are working with Honda to address shortcomings and deficiencies.
"Together with Honda we are considering options, but we will not comment on media speculation."