THE romance between F1 teams Renault and McLaren will come to an end after the last grand prix of 2020.

But it’s nothing sinister or weep-worthy.

Both parties, Renault Sport Racing and McLaren Racing have agreed not to renew their F1 engine supply contract beyond the 2020 season.

“Since our partnership began, McLaren has gone from ninth to fourth position in the Constructors’ Championship,” Renault Sport Racing managing director Cyril Abiteboul said.

“We can therefore consider this a very successful relationship. 

“However, while looking beyond the terms of the current contract, which concludes at the end of 2020, it was apparent that Renault and McLaren have different ambitions for the future.

“Each of the different elements of this decision have been carefully evaluated over the past few weeks. 2021 will be a crucial season for all teams and it is important for us to have a precise and clear view of the strengths and ambitions of our competitors going forward.

“This decision is in line with Renault’s vision to become a works’ team, with a goal to return to the front.

Renault will continue to honour its commitments to McLaren Racing next season, as has always been the case over our long history of engine supply.”

So what will McLaren do about it?

Easy.

They’ve done (another) deal with Mercedes, with whom they broke up to go with Honda power, but that wasn’t too rosy a relationship — so they went to Renault instead.

In fact, they will have made three changes in seven years by the time a Mercedes is plugged into the back of their cars once more.

McLaren wants to challenge for wins and championships again. 

They’ve not even had a podium finish since 2014, the last season in which they ran Mercedes power. 

So for 2021, there will be four teams using Mercedes power: Mercedes themselves, Racing Point, Williams and McLaren. 

The last time McLaren-Mercedes joined forces, they secured 78 grands prix wins, three drivers’ championships and one constructors’ championship.

But for 19 of those 20 years, McLaren was Mercedes’ main focus. Now, they will be a customer. 

For the moment, it’s all smiles for a partnership that could herald the return to the front of the grid for one of Formula 1’s most iconic and successful teams.

Unless, of course, Renault gets there first.

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Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.