Honda confirm F1 return with McLaren in 2015

2015 F1 season

Martin Whitmarsh, Takanobu Ito, 2013Honda have officially announced they will return to Formula One as an engine supplier to McLaren in the 2015 season.

Honda president and CEO Takanobu Ito said: “The new F1 regulations with their significant environmental focus will inspire even greater development of our own advanced technologies and this is central to our participation in F1.

“We have the greatest respect for the FIA?s decision to introduce these new regulations that are both highly challenging but also attractive to manufacturers that pursue environmental technologies and to Formula One Group, which has developed F1 into a high value, top car racing category supported by enthusiastic fans.

“We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Mr Jean Todt, the President of FIA and to Mr Bernie Ecclestone, the CEO of Formula One Group who showed great understanding and cooperation to help realize our participation in F1 racing.”

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “Together during the eighties and nineties McLaren-Honda won 44 Grands Prix and eight world championships. In 1988 we created the most successful F1 car of all time, the all-conquering MP4-4, driven to victory 15 times out of 16 by Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.”

“Mclaren-Honda are about to embark on a new and extremely adventure together”, he added. “I’m delighted to welcome Honda back to the sport.”

Honda will return in the second year of F1’s new V6 turbo engine regulations. Whitmarsh’s described Honda’s experiencing building turbocharged engines as being “unequalled by any other car manufacturer currently competing in Formula 1.”

Honda last competed in F1 five years ago with their own team based at the Brackley factory in Northamptonshire which is now used by Mercedes.

Their last three-year stint as an F1 chassis builder and engine constructor yielded a win in the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix which was followed by two years of conspicuous under-performance. Honda abruptly pulled the plug on its programme at the end of 2008.

Honda’s first foray into Formula One came with a full works programme between 1964 and 1968. During that time Richie Ginther won the Mexican Grand Prix for the team in 1965 and John Surtees added a second victory in Italy two years later. But the death of Jo Schlesser in one of their cars in 1968 led to their departure.

They returned as an engine supplier in 1983 and began an enormously successful period with Williams and McLaren during which time Honda-engined cars and their drivers won a total of 11 championships.

Following their departure at the end of 1992 they returned ten years later supplying engines to Jordan and BAR, the latter ultimately forming the basis for their short-lived team.

The deal to supply engines to McLaren from 2015 will mark an end to the team’s relationship with Mercedes, which began in 1995.

“It?s appropriate to recognise that until the end of 2014 we?ll maintain a full commitment to our existing and long-standing partner, Mercedes-Benz, for which we retain the utmost respect and with whom we intend to continue to work diligently and professionally,” Whitmarsh added.

“McLaren-Mercedes has so far won an incredible 78 grands prix and four world championships. We aim to cap our long-standing partnership with the same ambition and resolve with which we began it: namely, to keep winning.”

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134 comments on Honda confirm F1 return with McLaren in 2015

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  1. Girts (@girts) said on 16th May 2013, 8:09

    That’s exciting news, I wonder if they plan to supply engines to any other teams, too.

  2. SeaHorse (@seahorse) said on 16th May 2013, 8:17

    So Mclaren-Honda from 2015 it is! I wish I had answers to the following questions as well. Will this announcement have a bearing on the McLaren-Mercedes pairing for 2013 and 2014 seasons? And will there be more teams going for their engines?

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 16th May 2013, 8:33

      I don’t see why Mercedes would put up their prices for 2014. They’ve had a good relationship with McLaren to date, and putting up the price for a one-year deal would only give them a bad image.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 17th May 2013, 7:58

        The price for that deal certainly will not change, as the deal is done and sealed already a while ago.

      • SeaHorse (@seahorse) said on 17th May 2013, 8:10

        @prisoner-monkeys and @bascb I was wondering whether this new announcement would impact the relationship between McLaren and Mercedes in that their co-operation. May be my sentence was not clear in that post.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 17th May 2013, 8:19

          Actually I did understand it that way @seehorse, so in answer to that question – yes it will definitely influence their cooperation.

          I have seen several reports in German AMuS, that Mercedes have already taken pretty fargoing steps to make sure that McLaren (and even more so Honda) gets as little access to engine data as is viable. And it will surely lead to some constrained moments in the coming months and year. On the other hand, ever since Mercedes bought into Brawn and severed its ties with McLaren it was clear that their relationship was breaking down, poaching the TD and Hamilton from McLaren was already a clear sign they are in tough competition.

  3. Don’t care.

  4. Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 16th May 2013, 8:20

    Well, color me surprised. (No, not really.)

    The big question for me is… who will be the B-team? I think they will struggle without one (as Renault, Mercedes, and Ferrari all have at least one). More teams = more mileage = more data = more development.

    • PieLighter (@pielighter) said on 16th May 2013, 8:25

      Force India? With the McLaren electronics it’s a possibility.

    • Fisha695 (@fisha695) said on 16th May 2013, 8:26

      I’m putting my money on Caterham with and outside chance of Sauber or Williams.

    • andae23 (@andae23) said on 16th May 2013, 8:44

      Well, if they can make their engines relatively cheap, it can be a real outcome for the current Renault-customers with money issues: Lotus, Williams and Caterham. The latter could become Renault’s base team: Pic, Total sponsors and a former Renault man as their CEO are indications of that.

      That would leave us with Lotus and Williams. From a historic point of view: Williams and Lotus have both run with Honda engines before (though the Enstone team never did). Wouldn’t it be great to see McLaren-Honda and Williams-Honda competing against each other once again?

      Aside from the Renault customers: Force India could potentially be a Honda customer as they are currently using McLaren products.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 16th May 2013, 9:58

        Only Williams Honda did not really compete with McLaren Honda, did they? Williams went to Renault when McLaren took Honda from them.

        But given the prices for the Renaults, I would agree that Williams and Lotus should be there. Maybe Sauber as well, I think I heard rumours they are talking about it.

      • Ivano (@) said on 16th May 2013, 12:02

        I’ll rather see full works team like Audi vs Peugeot vs Ferrari vs Mercedes than this half breeds.

        • Ivano (@) said on 16th May 2013, 12:05

          *these half

        • Ivano (@) said on 16th May 2013, 12:06

          The dream would be Aston Martin vs Ferrari vs Porsche…
          I know, impossible, but that excites me than rather Red Bull Renualt and McLaren Honda.

        • andae23 (@andae23) said on 16th May 2013, 13:00

          Then we end up with Formula 1 pre-1960: the Italian car manufacturers (Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Lancia) vs. the Germans (Mercedes, Auto-Union) vs. the French vs. the British. Personally, I think it’s great this isn’t the case anymore, because it results in very sporadic F1 appearances: the main company can decide when to stop the F1 project whenever they want, while privateers need the competition to survive as a company.

          • Ivano (@) said on 16th May 2013, 15:54


            I disagree with your point considering how privateers also sporadic appearances with the exception of Williams and McLaren. Engines suppliers too.

          • Ivano (@) said on 16th May 2013, 15:55

            *also have

          • andae23 (@andae23) said on 16th May 2013, 16:18

            @ivano I’d say an engine supplier withdrawing from F1 is less severe than an entire F1 team: without engine supplier the team just starts looking for a new team (for instance Brawn in 2009 adopted Mercedes engines to replace the Hondas). If the team decides to quit, there will be no replacement team ready to step in.

          • Ivano (@) said on 18th May 2013, 0:53


            I see your point there, but I prefer teams that make their own chassis and engines and would rather see car brands, than Red Bull or HRT which are just ridiculous.

      • McGregski (@mcgregski) said on 16th May 2013, 12:27

        What about Marussia? They have a technical agreement with McLaren and use (I think) McLaren gearboxes

        • andae23 (@andae23) said on 16th May 2013, 12:54

          Could be a possibility, but it begs the question: what will they do in 2014?

        • SeaHorse (@seahorse) said on 16th May 2013, 13:08

          A small team like Marussia can’t afford the huge cost of shifting to an engine supplier for just one season and then moving to another. It would burn their pockets, especially considering the huge costs of these new formula turbocharged engines.

        • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 16th May 2013, 14:07

          I think Marussia-Ferrari is looking more likely, since I believe Ferrari are looking to expand their customer base and Marussia looks like one of their potential customers with a Ferrari development driver being with the team and all…

      • photozen (@photozen) said on 16th May 2013, 13:08

        I don’t believe Force India will use Honda just due to the extension of their contract with Mercedes, so I would go with Catherham or Williams. Possible Sauber.Marussia has to change in 2014 and will probably have a multiple year contact with whomever they sign with so it would be a few years till they could switch to Honda. What I am interested in is where Kobayashi could be in all of this, if at all. Maybe he will be brought back, maybe with Caterham, or Williams if either goes with Honda engines at some point ? Another part I found a bit funny was the mention of Ecclestone as being supportive…all I have ever read or heard is his total lack of support for the new engines.

      • JCost (@jcost) said on 16th May 2013, 14:31


        Red Bull is currently using McLaren products (alternators)…. :)

  5. Mallesh Magdum (@malleshmagdum) said on 16th May 2013, 8:24

    A McLaren which isnt silver….will take time to get used to that!

    • Fisha695 (@fisha695) said on 16th May 2013, 8:32

      If it weren’t for the fact that Vodafone is leaving (or appears to be leaving) I wouldn’t be so fast on the “they’re gonna drop the Silver (Pewter?)” bandwagon as Vodafone cars in all forms of motorsports over the last 6 or so years have been that Silver/Pewter/Chrome color.

    • Calum (@calum) said on 16th May 2013, 9:20

      Confirmation of a new works engine deal.

      It might have been the worst-kept secret in F1 but it still nice to finally get some good news from Mclaren this season!

      • timi (@timi) said on 16th May 2013, 10:49

        @calum I don’t really see it as being “good news” for McLaren. It’s an immensely risky move. Honda will be 20 races + testing behind other engine manufacturers, in terms of meaningful running and testing, not just on a dyno. I honestly think this season marks the start of a McLaren slump that will continue for a few years yet.

        The “new” car (this season’s), of which little can be carried over to the 2014 car, thus wasting resources throughout this year on fixing the current problems. [I think they should focus on 2014 instead of fixing this car].

        The departures of Hamilton and Paddy Lowe, but the latter is far far more important. McLaren have had a few seasons in recent memory where they start off poorly but develop their way back. Lowe was always there to help, but not any more. This further puts a dampener on this season for them (in my opinion), as well as future ones.

        Then first season with the new regs 2014,- A pretty much brand new car. But less engine-chassis synergy time/information than the works teams (and presumably RBR).. then make that even less due to Merc being cautious of McLaren letting Honda know secrets the following year!

        And finally, 2015 Honda enters the sport playing catch up. McLaren will need a brand new chassis to fit the Honda engine, again taking resources away from other facets of car development, and likely ruining/making-null some of the data they had collected in 2014. Thus, starting 2015 again playing catchup.

        Basically I can’t see McLaren with, or near a championship until 2016.

        • McGregski (@mcgregski) said on 16th May 2013, 12:35

          @calum @timi

          They might be at a disadvantage but how do we know that they (Honda) don’t already have an engine developed? It would be a big gamble for McLaren if Honda don’t already have a prototype in test to demonstrate what they can deliver. In theory – if they don’t officially become an engine supplier until 2015 then there is nothing preventing them from retrofitting an engine into a 2012 McLaren and spending as much of 2014 testing privately as they like?

          I see this as an an advantage, especially when they will witness all the issues raised by McLaren running the 2014 Merc engine

          Honda could turn up and blow everyone away. Albeit – given McLaren’s apparent odd-numbered years bad luck (2009, 2011, 2013), 2015 might not go well purely due to starting with a ‘dodgy’ car

          • timi (@timi) said on 16th May 2013, 13:04

            I doubt they’d be allowed to “retrofit an engine into a 2012 McLaren and spending as much of 2014 testing privately as they like”, thus no advantage.

            And I highly doubt they have an engine made up to the regs, that is as far down the road as the other engine manufacturers. They definitely didn’t draw up plans last night, but I think they’re having to play catch-up.

        • Nick (@nick101) said on 16th May 2013, 14:22


          The departures of Hamilton and Paddy Lowe, but the latter is far far more important. McLaren have had a few seasons in recent memory where they start off poorly but develop their way back. Lowe was always there to help, but not any more.

          Right, so where exactly was Paddy Lowe when these poor cars were designed initially? You make it sound as if he had nothing to do with the initial design and rode in on his shiny white horse to fix the problems after the season starts.

          As far as I’m concerned, Paddy Lowe is over rated. He’s been there for years and has overseen the development of all the cars – good and bad. Quite why he receives all the praise for developing a bad car into a good car and doesn’t get slated for developing the bad car to begin with is beyond me!

        • sonia luff (@sonia54) said on 16th May 2013, 20:42

          What makes you think Honda will be playing catch up, they certainly had the best turbo cars when they were last in a Mac. I think they’ll be up and running fine. Honda wouldn’t come back if they didn’t think they could produce a decent engine

          • timi (@timi) said on 17th May 2013, 9:27

            @sonia54 I don’t base judgements in F1 on things that occupied over 20 years ago. They may have had the best engines back then, but in recent history, they most definitely haven’t. *cough* BAR and Jordan GP.

            @nick101 Because Nick, there are mitigating circumstances that may lead to producing a bad car, i.e. bad wind-tunnel-track correlation. In the factory, the team could think their car is quick, but on track it isn’t.
            Whereas you’re not going to catch-up with other teams cars over the course of the season due to positive mitigating circumstances. Season development would most likely it would be down to good leadership, and direction. Even “luck” is unlikely to give performance in such a precise sport, but bad-luck or errors can lead to exponential lack of speed. Paddy should not be blamed for the bad cars, nor over-lauded for in-season development. But I think it’s something worth noting.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 17th May 2013, 7:49

          @timi, the engines will be identical in size to the centimetre, Honda will not be catching up, they will be developing against a known benchmark. What I don’t understand is how the FIA intend to equalise the engines, will a significantly better Honda have to detune or will the others be allowed a development window to catch up.

          • timi (@timi) said on 17th May 2013, 9:34

            @Hohum Ah, fair enough then. However, there’s still those 20 races and testing to consider.

            Interesting question regarding the engines though. I do wonder what the FIA would do if an engine was a clear few seconds faster than everybody else.

    • NJB said on 16th May 2013, 11:45

      Personally I still haven’t got used to it.

  6. Its nice to see the 4th Engine Manufacturer back in…

    But they have a huge disadvantage by not coming straight in from 2014.. As I understand the rules there are point allocations to how much U can develop the Engine over a Season and the Allocations decrease in the 2nd year and 3rd years( 2015 and 2016) irrespective of whether U are newcomer or not..
    So Honda will have as much room to develop their Engine as Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes in their 2nd year come 2015..

    • melkurion (@melkurion) said on 16th May 2013, 8:35

      True, however I also feel they have an advantage. Renault, Mercedes and Ferrari are developing an engine “in the dark” They want to get the most out of it ofcourse, but they will not know if the most is for instance 20 horsepower less then the next guy, or if theirs is more fueledfficient etc etc. Honda will have benchmarks, they will know what the competition is doing, and so they will have clear tagets to beat with their engine. Sometimes when you are developung something new you get in a certain development direction convinced it’s the best,only to find out later that another sollution would be better, but you were blind to it. Honda will get to see what’s out there, what’s [possible, and then direct their own efforts accordingly

      • Surely.. It can be either a negative or a very Positive impact, as they can Analyse the 2014 Engines (especially the Mercedes Engine).. We will see how it turns out…

        Btw, Jenson Button has just tweeted “Welcome back Honda :) exciting news this morning about our new engine supplier and partner for 2015… 頑張って Honda!”

        What are the odds He won’t be at McLaren come 2015??

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 16th May 2013, 9:21

          What are the odds He won’t be at McLaren come 2015??

          Why would McLaren get rid of him?

        • S.J.M (@sjm) said on 16th May 2013, 10:29

          Jenson has strong ties with Japan and with Honda. It wouldnt suprise me if he was still at Mclaren in 2015 because of this.

          • Starbuck (@starbuck) said on 16th May 2013, 10:48

            Jenson will possibly win another title in the McLaren in 2020. The year after Honda dropped out ;)

          • JCost (@jcost) said on 16th May 2013, 15:24


            Maybe things go even better than expectations and their partnership is strengthened and Honda decides to put a Japanese driver with stronger ties to the country than Jenson… who knows we will see Kobayashi paired with Perez again?

  7. wsrgo (@wsrgo) said on 16th May 2013, 8:38

    Good news, but I think it’ll be sometime before McLaren will be at the front, challenging. 2013 is looking to be a difficult year for McLaren, and 2014 could possibly be their worst year, seeing that next year’s car revolves around the new engines, and McLaren will be Mercedes’s priority no. 3 (behind Force India too). And I’m not sure whether McLaren can repeat the 1988 formula, where their first year of Honda partnership ended with them winning 15 out of 16 wins.
    Let’s hope that McLaren can get back to winning ways soon. And I’m a Ferrari fan, incidentally.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 16th May 2013, 9:28

      next year’s car revolves around the new engines, and McLaren will be Mercedes’s priority no. 3

      And how, exactly, is that going to affect McLaren? They will be buying exactly the same engines as Force India, and both will be using exactly the same engines as Mercedes. And they will know the specifications of the engines in advance – the regulations were first published in August 2011 – so they will be able to build their car around it.

  8. John H (@john-h) said on 16th May 2013, 8:38

    Mclaren aside, this is great news for the health of F1. Three suppliers was too few and just one step away from disaster. The V6 turbo decision now appears to be a good one… take note Luca.

  9. SoLiDG (@solidg) said on 16th May 2013, 8:47

    Great news that Honda will return. And who knows this might trigger some others to come back or come into the f1 arena (toyota?).
    It was getting a bit low on engine suppliers, this is just what we needed and that they are coming in with a big team makes it extra exciting.

  10. Sergio Perez (@sergio-perez) said on 16th May 2013, 8:47

    Very nice… Now Mclaren just need a new “Senna” to get back the Mojo…

    Who has that potential? I would Mclaren really needs an exceptional personality, real world champion material… Da Costa from the new generation? Sincerely, all of them right now- the new batch- just look so “vanilla”, I can’t see anyone with the potential to add to the Mythos of the Mclaren Honda legacy…

    • Sergio Perez (@sergio-perez) said on 16th May 2013, 8:50

      Please disregard the ” I would” before. Speed writing.

      You know who I wouldn’t mind seeing coming back with Honda? Kamui Kobayashi. That would be interesting…

      • Jay Menon (@jaymenon10) said on 16th May 2013, 9:40

        KK is a Toyota development I doubt he will be in the fray.

        Takuma Sato is a Honda backed driver…but there is no chance of him coming back
        The only Japanese driver who is amounting to anything in formula racing right now is Kimiya Sato, who leads the Auto GP series now….I dont know who backs him.

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 16th May 2013, 10:24


          KK is a Toyota development I doubt he will be in the fray.

          I think you meant Kazuki Nakajima. Kobayashi was driving for Sauber, using Ferrari power.

          Takuma Sato is a Honda backed driver…but there is no chance of him coming back

          Sato has said he has no interest in retrning to Formla 1.

          The only Japanese driver who is amounting to anything in formula racing right now is Kimiya Sato, who leads the Auto GP series now….I dont know who backs him.

          Honda have never demanded a Japanese driver.

    • Tomsk (@tomsk) said on 16th May 2013, 9:16

      It’s a shame Bruno Senna & Nicolas Prost didn’t quite live up to their names…

      Neither are today’s retro-themed teams – Williams-Renault kind of need a new Mansell (Lewis Hamilton’s the closest thing, but what are the chances of that?), and Lotus-Renault’s about where the old Lotus team was with Senna. Maybe they should just look forward and not back!

      Are there any rumours of Honda using sportscars to develop the engine? There are bigger Honda stickers on the cars they power this year, and F1 engines will be allowed in the new World Endurance Championship rules next year…

    • wsrgo (@wsrgo) said on 16th May 2013, 9:39

      @sergio-perez There are several young talents in junior formulae. McLaren have Stoffel Vandoorne and Kevin Magnussen, and the former is incredibly talented. Another guy not in any young driver programme is Marvin Kirchhofer. The German youngster won the ADAC Formel Masters last year in his first season in cars, and is leading this year’s German F3 championship with quite a margin. He should be in the radar of a few teams at the end of 2013..

    • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 16th May 2013, 10:39


    • It’s gonna be Kevin Magnussen!

    • melkurion (@melkurion) said on 16th May 2013, 12:15

      They need Robin Frijns :)

  11. F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 16th May 2013, 9:02

    whitmarsh has an entire paragraph on senna, prost and the mp4-4, and 2 very brief sentences on the future – perfectly consistent with their recent form, even before the 2013 launch. the factory from the future loves living in the past, while the present is a disaster. they can’t possibly believe this, but the message they convey is that a honda badge is the ticket to the glory days all over again.

    that’s a negative, now for 2 positives:
    the more participants in a sport the better, so welcome back honda

    this will probably extend jb’s career, given his japanese marketability

  12. Jared H (@thejaredhuang) said on 16th May 2013, 9:11

    Time to bring back tobacco sponsorships! Can someone definitively answer how McLaren switched to silver, was it from the West sponsorship? I really want them to race an orange livery even if its for once race.

    That 555 Honda for the 2006 Chinese GP was great looking

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 16th May 2013, 9:20

      Time to bring back tobacco sponsorships!
      You can’t be serious.

      Can someone definitively answer how McLaren switched to silver, was it from the West sponsorship?

      It came two years into the Mercedes deal, when Malboro moved to Ferrari. McLaren needed new colours, and with Mercedes’ presence within the team, they picked up the black and silver.

    • John H (@john-h) said on 16th May 2013, 11:16

      The silver colour was due to the West sponsorship in 1997 @thejaredhuang. This turned chrome in 2006 with the MP4-21 for sponsorship reasons (oh shiny). The Mercedes connection probably helped maintain the same paint job, but as far as I understand it’s not Chrome/Silver because of Mercedes.

      No doubt Honda would like them to change it in 2015 anyway to remove any perceived association with Merc. I’m guessing McLaren are due a change anyway, it’s getting a bit boring now.

  13. sushant008 (@sushant008) said on 16th May 2013, 9:17

    One question: The old HondaF1 factory in UK now belongs to Mercedes. So where’s the development and manufacturing process is going to happen?..I guess in California where they produce Indycar V6 motors.

  14. Funkyf1 (@funkyf1) said on 16th May 2013, 9:17

    Do Honda make tyres? *cough cough*

  15. Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 16th May 2013, 9:34

    I’m actually ridiculously happy at that news – more manufacturers is just what we need!

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