McLaren, if you haven't heard, hasn't quite had the greatest few years with Honda power in Formula One. It's been so bad that in the three years Fernando Alonso has been driving a McLaren-Honda, he's retired from 22 races, which is more than a full season.
Something has to give or else McLaren could lose its star driver. And now reports are saying that an elaborate three team, multi-driver, two engine trade is what will get the job done.
Having been rebuffed by Mercedes and Ferrari, McLaren's last hope was a supply of customer engines from Renault, but the team didn't have a slot available. But
First, Renault's supply of engines would leave Toro Rosso and go to McLaren, with Toro Rosso getting Honda power units. Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr. would move to Renault for 2018, with some rumors stating it could be as soon as the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix to replace the underperforming Jolyon Palmer. Toro Rosso would likely promote one of its junior drivers, like Pierre Gasly. And McLaren would get to hold on to Fernando Alonso.
This solves a few predicaments. First, and most importantly, it lets McLaren hold on to its star driver, which is the biggest takeaway from this. Second, it lets Renault have two promising drivers with Sainz paired up with Nico Hulkenberg. Third, Toro Rosso avoids a difficult decision of who to fire to promote a junior driver to a race seat. And fourth, it gets Toro Rosso a works engine supply.
Now, you're probably saying that Toro Rosso is a big loser here. Their best driver is gone and they get engines from Honda, which has done the opposite of a good job the last few years. However, Honda has been working like mad to get the engine up to speed, reportedly bringing in Ilmor to make them more competitive. If there is further improvement in the off season from Honda, this could be a great move for Toro Rosso, one that would have McLaren regretting everything.
We'll have to wait to see if this rumor comes true, of course, and if that improvement happens.