Engine suppliers Honda said on Friday they are hoping to power as many as three different Formula One teams next year despite ongoing reliability problems at McLaren.
Honda returned to Formula One in 2015 with McLaren to fanfare that they would reproduce the halcyon days of championship-winning seasons with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.
But instead of celebrating victories, they have been drawn into a spiral of failure following a series of engine failures.
"From the start of this F1 activity we committed to support this F1 society, so from that point of view it is our duty -- and we have to support multiple teams," said Honda’s F1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa.
"And, also, we are thinking it will give us some benefit to the team because we have more data and more chance to make the car running. So we don’t deny to have a second or third team."
Paddock sources at the Russian Grand Prix -- where McLaren suffered more engine trouble -- suggested that Honda are in talks with Sauber and at least one other outfit.
Hasegawa added: "We are talking with various teams but at this moment we unfortunately have nothing to say."
His comments came as McLaren and Honda's poor start to the season hit another low after Stoffel Vandoorne suffered more engine problems and is set to be handed a grid penalty for Sunday’s race.
McLaren endured a series of engine reliability setbacks at the Bahrain Grand Prix last time out and both drivers, the Belgian Vandoorne and two-time former world champion Fernando Alonso, were given replacement parts for this weekend in Sochi.
But more problems were identified on Vandoorne’s car after Friday’s first practice, which resulted in his McLaren being fitted with another new unit.
The fresh engine moves Vandoorne beyond the limit for engine parts because it is his fifth before the fourth race even starts.
He is expected to be penalised by 15 places on the grid, a sanction that has become almost commonplace for the team during its troubled relationship with Honda.