The long-running tragicomedy of McLaren's reunion with Honda could be given its last rites at the Singapore Grand Prix this week, as a deal with Renault nears fruition.
McLaren's decision to ditch Mercedes power heading into the hybrid era has backfired spectacularly, with Honda always playing catch-up to their manufacturing rivals – a deficiency that has left one of the sport's great exponents, Fernando Alonso, woefully misplaced on the grid.
The unhappy marriage is set for divorce, however, with Renault reportedly agreeing to supply power units for McLaren in 2018 and beyond.
But the story is not quite that simple, with the futures of Toro Rosso, and especially Carlos Sainz Jr, also tangled into a complicated web of deal-making and repositioning...
WHY MCLAREN ARE MAKING THE MOVE
McLaren-Honda was a combination previously synonymous with one of Formula One's most commanding teams. Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna's domination of the grid came on Honda power – between them the legendary foes won all but one race in 1988, with the Brazilian coming out on top in that intra-team battle, the first of four-straight drivers' and constructors' doubles.
The last two and a half years have done severe damage to that reputation, however, with Alonso, Jenson Button and Stoffel Vandoorne lagging in midfield at best. The team have scored points at just two races so far this season.
Of the four power units currently in F1, Honda's is by far the weakest, but the proposed move to Renault speaks volumes of McLaren's desperation to ditch a partner that currently provides free engines and pays most of Alonso's salary.
Red Bull have made no secret of their frustration with the French manufacturer over recent seasons, having seen their pre-Hybrid dominance of the sport transferred to Mercedes, and Ferrari overtaking them as the Silver Arrows' most meaningful rivals this year.
WHAT NEXT FOR HONDA?
Honda's malaise was deepened in July when Sauber reneged on a deal to take their power units from 2018, instead striking a fresh agreement with Ferrari.
The Japanese brand are set to remain in the sport, however, with Renault unable to simply add McLaren to their portfolio of customers – meaning Toro Rosso will take the plunge with Honda.
It has even been suggested that Red Bull could end up with Honda power, should they be enthused by the junior team's progress – bizarrely mirroring the desire to quit a supplier which has seen McLaren head for Renault.
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE ALONSO/SAINZ?
Alonso was previously expected to quit McLaren at the end of this season, but the promise of a more competitive package should be enough to keep the two-time world champion around for at least one more year.
Sainz is expected to end up in the Renault works car, as they seek a competitive edge over McLaren and Red Bull – both capable of putting together much sleeker chassis as it stands.
The biggest victim of the situation looks set to be Jolyon Palmer, who could even lose his Renault seat to Sainz before the season is over.
24. September 2017
|Spieth adds ´cheerleading´ to game plan as FedEx Cup hopes fade|
|Allegri: Higuain needs to rediscover form after Juve axing|
|Stanton closes in on Maris record with 57th homer|
|Yankees back in postseason after clinching playoff spot|
|Juventus great Nedved comes out of retirement|
|I´ll be back! Schwarzenegger visits Barcelona|
|A future doubles pair? Federer and Nadal say no after memorable clash|
|Are you on loan from Man City? Messi quizzes Girona´s Maffeo|
|Curry responds to Trump uninviting Warriors to White House|
|Casey takes outright lead at Tour Championship|
|ICC launches investigation in Sri Lanka following corruption allegations|
|CAF Champions League Review: Holders Sundowns out on penalties|
|Alba lauds Valverde´s impact at in-form Barcelona|
|Pjanic: Things will only get better for Juventus|
|Bosz points to collective effort despite Aubameyang & Philipp heroics|
23. September 2017
|Zebre see off sorry Kings, victories for Cardiff and Scarlets|
|Juventus and Napoli make record-breaking Serie A start|
|Federer and Nadal join forces in Laver Cup win|
|Atletico have improved despite transfer ban, says Simeone|
|Championship Review: Pacesetters Leeds, Cardiff & Wolves battle to wins|
|Mikautadze sees red as Bordeaux beat Montpellier, Clermont see off Racing|
|Paire to face Gojowczyk in Moselle Open final|
|Klopp: We are not the Harlem Globetrotters|
|Juventus 4 Torino 0: Dybala stars again in rampant derby victory|
|Girona 0 Barcelona 3: Centurion Suarez seals Catalan derby triumph|
|Goodell calls Trump comments on anthem protests ´divisive´|
|He´s been brilliant – Henderson delighted with Coutinho contribution|
|Klopp sees flawed performance at Leicester as typical of Liverpool|
|Benteke knee injury piles more woe on Palace|
|Emery angry at failure to give PSG ´very clear´ penalty|
|Llorente agrees new four-year Real Madrid deal|
|Ronaldo relaxed despite goalscoring woes, says Zidane|
|Dyche demands rule change after Van La Parra dive|
|Bjerregaard takes slender Portugal Masters lead|
|Sane´s simple stuff delights Guardiola after poor pre-season|
|Borussia Dortmund 6 Borussia Monchengladbach 1: Aubameyang hat-trick inspires Dortmund rout|
|Leicester City 2 Liverpool 3: Classy Coutinho helps to halt Reds slump|
|Wakefield hammer Wigan to finish fifth, winning farewell for Smith|
|Manchester United to take action after Lukaku chants resurface|
|Clement shoulders blame as Swansea´s home woes continue|
|18 shots, zero goals - why Cristiano Ronaldo is LaLiga´s most frustrated player|
|Like Barca without Messi or Madrid without Ronaldo – Verratti insists Neymar-less PSG are still grea|
|Chelsea star Morata must continue scintillating form – Conte|
|LeBron James calls President Trump a ´bum´ after uninviting Warriors to White House|
|Mourinho hails ´amazing´ Manchester United fans despite reprisal of Lukaku song|
|Vunipola injured in Saracens rout, Tigers and Falcons win on the road|
|Caixinha stands by ´loud and clear´ Old Firm row with Brown|
|Relieved Koeman hails ´incredible´ Niasse|
|The boys were not sharp – Mourinho concedes United had to go defensive at Southampton|
|Montpellier 0 Paris Saint-Germain 0: 100 per cent record ends in Neymar´s absence|
|Five-star Manchester City on best top-flight goal run since 1950s|
|Bautista Agut beaten again in St Petersburg semis as Fognini sets up Dzumhur final|
|Blistering Blaak takes world road race title|
|Swansea 1 Watford 2: Late Richarlison strike secures victory for Silva´s side|
|Deportivo Alaves 1 Real Madrid 2: Ceballos off the mark as champions bounce back|
|Burnley 0 Huddersfield Town 0: Spoils shared after uninspired arm-wrestle|
|Everton 2 Bournemouth 1: Niasse double relieves pressure on Koeman|
|Manchester City 5 Crystal Palace 0: Guardiola´s men sink strugglers to go top|
|Southampton 0 Manchester United 1: Lukaku strikes again in unconvincing victory|
|Stoke City 0 Chelsea 4: Magic Morata hits hat-trick|
|Kane one of the best, Bilic says|
|Manchester United fans sing Lukaku chant in defiance of warnings|
|I am in love with him! - Pochettino praises derby hero Kane|
|President Trump withdraws Warriors´ White House invitation|
|Two-goal Kane surpasses 19 Premier League teams for shots against the woodwork|
|West Ham 2 Tottenham 3: Kane at the double to play derby hero again|
|Pulis regrets comments on Livermore´s West Brom absence|
|Remarkable Rossi on front row as Vinales takes Aragon pole|
|Rangers 0 Celtic 2: Rogic and Griffiths maintain Old Firm dominance|
|Atletico Madrid 2 Sevilla 0: Carrasco, Griezmann send Simeone´s side second|