The move was agreed as part of the deal for McLaren and Toro Rosso to swap engine supplies for 2018, linking up with Renault and Honda respectively, also anounced on Friday. Given this, and the upcoming change in engine formula towards the end of the decade, Red Bull seem to be hedging their bets on Honda getting it together at some point so that they might create a potential works outfit in the future.
In the first 'musical seats' move of the 2017/2018 silly season, Renault also announced that Carlos Sainz would replace Jolyon Palmer for the 2018 season, alongside Nico Hulkenberg - although both Renault Sport Racing managing director Cyril Abiteboul and Red Bull's Helmut Marko described the move as 'a loan'.
McLaren executive director Zak Brown added that "for a combination of reasons our partnership has not flourished as any of us would have wished".
Mirroring McLaren's partnership with Honda, Red Bull have been highly critical of the Renault power-unit in recent years, which has seen the team drop from world-champions to the third best team over the last four years. As an organisation, McLaren has always worked extremely hard to form lasting partnerships with its technical suppliers.
"The trajectory of Renault Sport Formula One Team is exciting and I'm proud to join at such an important time in their history", says Sainz.
McLaren even talked to Ferrari, though this newspapers sources indicate that the conversations never went beyond a friendly chat.
Daniel Ricciardo did win three races that opening year with the newer engines, but the rest of the time, MGU failures caused many non-finishes.
"I know there are a lot of rumours going on and a lot of things being said, but from my side I prefer to stick to my standard.to focus on my weekend and not comment too much about the future", 23-year-old Sainz said at the same event.
"It'll take some time but our shareholders are very committed, very aware and we wouldn't have made this decision if we weren't prepared to work through short-term economic loss from the lack of Honda income".
Honda's general manager for motorsport, Masashi Yamamoto, believes the Toro Rosso team will be a better fit for his company.
"We need those points: we're ninth in the constructors' championship, so every opportunity we get to score points, we need to grab with both hands".
The Singapore Grand Prix will be raced on Sunday.
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