Jun.16 (GMM/Inautonews.com) McLaren and Honda have played down speculation linking Manor with a supply of Japanese power for 2016.

Honda, returning to F1 this year, decided to focus exclusively on McLaren, but boss Yasuhisa Arai has said repeatedly he is open to adding a customer in the future.

Reports have linked backmarker Manor with such a move.

Currently, the team is powered by year-old Ferrari engines in the wake of the Marussia collapse and resurrection.

But Manor appears to have now stopped treading water, hiring the highly experienced Bob Bell as advisor and said to be focusing its efforts on an all-new car for 2016.

“You’re right,” said president Graeme Lowdon recently, “we’re in a position where we’re rebuilding the team really.

“The start of this season for us has obviously been very unusual, and we’re now having to rebuild things whilst also looking at the bigger picture and the bigger strategy,” he added.

Rumours of a link between McLaren-Honda and Manor are not new, although Woking has denied it wants to set up a ‘B’ team.

But it should be noted that McLaren is still owed money from the Marussia collapse, with documents late last year showing a debt of $11 million.

McLaren is also looking to advance the burgeoning careers of its junior drivers Kevin Magnussen, the 2015 reserve, and current GP2 series leader Stoffel Vandoorne.

A team spokesman told us the Manor link is “just a rumour”.

And, separately, a spokesperson for Honda also said claims Manor is lining up as the marque’s first engine customer is “just a rumour”.

“It is news for us as well. The Manor bankruptcy and seats for 2016, this is not for Honda to answer,” the Honda official added.