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

  1. JUGNU (@jugnu) said on 16th May 2013, 9:36

    Great News for Formula 1. A big manufacturer like Honda coming back is very healthy for F1.

    Now if we can get the tyres correct because all these developments, commitments and budgets being dictated by tyres is not correct. For example if a car got great Engines, ERS sytems and competitive aerodynamics but then unable to fight at the front just because a small team with less budget and commitment got the tyres correct and is winning every race is not correct.

    There should be a balance which reward all 1) Engines 2) Aero 3) tyres and not just one area.

    BTW when is Lewis Hamilton’s contract ending. He would love to drive a Mclaren-Honda.

  2. Hairs (@hairs) said on 16th May 2013, 9:50

    Cue hundreds of people shrieking “McLaren-Honda! Winnnaarr!” like sheep. Honda haven’t been a desirable engine supplier for 20 years. Their last engine, in the words of a Brawn engineer, “couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding”. You might as well get excited about Ford because the dfv was successful.

    This is a stupid announcement from McLaren. They’re going into the first season of a new formula with one engine supplier, then changing to a new, unproved supplier a year later who will be missing a year’s worth of real world testing data, whose recent track record is at best questionable, and whose design decisions and operating parameters will require considerable mental adjustment within the team’s personnel.

    Like this year’s car, McLaren seem determined to make changes when they don’t have to, and where there’s little advantage.

    • Calum (@calum) said on 16th May 2013, 9:57

      @hairs
      The turbo aspect and the fact Honda are giving Mclaren a works partnership is why quite a lot of people are really happy with this deal. It’s Mclaren’s best bet now they are competing against 3 teams with full works support (Ferrari, Mercedes and RedBull-Renault) – the fact it is 1 year after the rule change is not ideal, but they couldn’t remain a Mercedes customer, they had to get their own works deal to be on a level playing field with the other 3 major competitors.

      And Mclaren more often than not, are good with aero, Honda know turbos – It’s a promising partnership (which has worked in the past).

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 16th May 2013, 10:00

      @hairs@tomsk has raised an interesting question: what if they used Le Mans as a test bed? That way since they haven’t gone straight into F1 they will also have much more reign in developing the engine based on what others are doing.

      I think it could prove to be a very good move on Hondas part.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 16th May 2013, 10:04

      @hairs – Do you honestly think McLaren would have switched to Honda if they weren’t confident they could get a decent engine?

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 16th May 2013, 10:04

      Mercedes was probably well aware of this deal being on quite a while ago, actually AMuS reported that McLaren had already ran out of their call option on the Mercedes engines for 2015 by now, and Mercedes has already taken steps to make sure Mclaren and Honda get as little from their data as is possible.

      I think it was clear that it would end as soon as Merceded looked at buying Brawn in 2009, McLaren are far to proud a bunch to be left as a customer team for long (must bring back memories of a not so great 1993 – and not even a chance of a Donington like race this year. Hm, they should hope Honda does not bring them the same kind of “success” as Peugeot did then!)

      • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 16th May 2013, 10:52

        The McLaren-Mercedes partnership has been reported to have been in trouble for at least four years now. That’s why Mercedes bought up their own team rather than increasing their stake in McLaren, as might have been logical. They have seen out the existing contract but it’s been clear for a while that the deal would end after 2014.

        • Txizzle (@txizzle) said on 16th May 2013, 11:46

          If they were just waiting to the end of their deal with McLaren then they would have quit after this year, yet they did sign the 1-year extension concerning next year.
          So it can’t be that messed up. Not as messed up as the car they’re producing anyway. :P

  3. the_sigman (@sigman1998) said on 16th May 2013, 9:53

    I want MacLaren-Honda with Senna (Bruno) and Prost (Nicholas) :P

  4. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 16th May 2013, 10:39

    If Force India becomes Honda’s B-team “Force India-Honda” does not sound right does it?

    • Lol, I was just thinking that but then again; what the hey :-)

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 16th May 2013, 14:29

      We don’t have to worry about that @full-throttle-f1, Force India have already announced they have a long-term deal with Mercedes ;)

      I think we’re more likely to see a return of Williams-Honda (although the Renault deal is only recent, they have expressed a want to supply less teams). So Williams-Honda vs McLaren Honda? Sounds good to me!

      They’ll have some tough competition from Mercedes, eh, Mercedes; Ferrari, eh, Ferrari and Infinti Red Bull Racing-Renault (god, that’s a mouthful) I reckon though!

      • Klaas (@klaas) said on 16th May 2013, 15:36

        Infinti Red Bull Racing-Renault (god, that’s a mouthful)

        If you think that’s busy try saying fast: Pepsi Max Crew Ford Performance Racing. Some Aussie supercar drivers have a tough job to do when naming their workplace :).
        Williams would be suckers to change Renault for such a big unknown like Honda. If I was in charge of a non-manufacturer team I would definetly choose Ferrari engines for 2014-onwards (if I could afford it of course).

        • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 16th May 2013, 18:11

          @klaas

          If you think that’s busy try saying fast: Pepsi Max Crew Ford Performance Racing.

          That’s got to be a difficult one to subtly drop into a PR speech!

          I think they may have to change from Renault, but I don’t honestly think Honda will do badly: they have experience with turbos in F1 and similar turbos in Indycar and they may very well be able to use Le Mans as a test bed for developing the engine. All the ingredients are there for making a good engine IMO…

  5. Harvs (@harvs) said on 16th May 2013, 10:41

    I am so confused by McLaren at the moment, first they change their car base from last years car when last years car was clearly very fast, passing away a chance at a championship, then next year when they build their new car what are they going to do? they will have information on the Honda engine so will they build the car around the Honda engine and then slap in the Merc for the last season of the contract or will they compromise the 2015 car by designing the 2014 car around a Merc engine? Then when 2015 rolls around they are going to have to race with Engine which is a year down on the rest of the field and from the form of the last Honda engine to race in F1, well that was a disappointment. Whitmarsh can boast around talking up Honda’s turbo technical knowledge (which i know is rather impressive) but you still have to incorporate that turbo to a solid Engine, and Honda hasn’t done anything remotely interesting with their road cars in a while either. Looks to me like McLaren are not going to be even thinking about championships till at least 2016.

    On another note Red Bull Honda sounds nice to me, And another Engine Maker in F1 is always a good thing, just sounds like McLaren are chasing what was,

    • Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 16th May 2013, 10:48

      At least if McLaren collapse while Ron Dennis chases his dream of getting a lap record… around the Top Gear test track… that a rich car maker will be able to save them.

  6. JackySteeg (@jackysteeg) said on 16th May 2013, 11:01

    With all the controversy with the tyres this week, it’s great to see something that we can all agree is good news!

  7. K0V4LA1NEN said on 16th May 2013, 11:35

    interestingly the top 4 teams will have different engine suppliers, red bull have Renault, Ferrari have Ferrari, Mercedes have Mercedes and McLaren have Honda (excluding lotus from this list)

  8. Spawinte (@spawinte) said on 16th May 2013, 11:48

    People were all ooooh aaaah when the Williams-Renault combo made a comeback and that has turned out to be a big load of nothing. I think a change of supplier could merely be the continuation of a decline that McLaren seem to be slipping into.

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

      For me what is pleasing is the entry/re-entry of another engine supplier into Formula 1, than the partnership of McLaren and Honda. Though Whitmarsh highlights the company’s ability with Turbocharged engines, I take it with a pinch of a salt, especially considering that McLaren was the fastest car by the closing stages of last season and yet they have fallen into the middle of the mid-field this season. Who would have thought this would have happened?

  9. Tayyib (@m0nzaman) said on 16th May 2013, 12:07

    Glad too see a major manufacturer back in Formula 1. But surely this has to be a success, Honda wont do poor performances and niether will McLaren, and given that Honda are going to walk in blind compared to Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes and McLaren wont have engine data from 2014. Its a risk, but it will be exciting. Watched F1 since 1999 age of 3, Mclaren Mercedes is all I’ve known.

  10. Like timi and others have pointed out the timing just seems terrible. I understand that McLaren are looking to move away from Mercedes for political reasons and it’s outstanding that they have revoked Honda who will undoubtedly be a strong competitor in the compact turbo field. But what a pity that McLaren has to develop the first new-reg chassis for the Merc engine. I could be a major disadvantage to not just be one year behind but even have to develop a new chassis all over again. Or so it seems….

    But is it actually possible this a much more clever move than what meets the eye? Imagine that Honda will spend 2014 behind the scenes with McLaren and learn everything they can from the Merc engine in order to create a chassis-fitted replacement directly for 2015? When big money are at stake top minds are in play as well and it might just be that this is the smartest way to get to the top as fast and cheap as possible instead of starting from total scratch in 2014.

    When all of this is said and done; what greatly exiting news! Ferrari, Renault, Mercedes and Honda competing in the same F1 field. Absolutely classic!

  11. sumedh said on 16th May 2013, 12:25

    So what happens to 2014 year for Mclaren? They make a clean sheet design for 2014, use it for one year and then re-design from scratch to fit the new engine for 2015? That sounds wasteful, doesn’t it? I don’t think Mclaren are going to invest much time for 2014 now.

    On the other hand, this explains Mclaren’s decision to make a clean sheet design for 2013. Unlike other teams who will shift focus to 2014, Mclaren don’t have to do that as 2014 is probably a write-off anyways. So may be they decided to build a new design and focus on it the whole year and be really strong towards the end of the year.

  12. sato113 (@sato113) said on 16th May 2013, 12:28

    does the vodafone partnership end at the end of this year?
    could we see a mclaren livery change for 2014 then also 2015?

    • Klaas (@klaas) said on 16th May 2013, 13:34

      Yeah, hopefully it’s bright orange so it could perfectly mark where the midfield is :)

    • Sherlock said on 16th May 2013, 13:48

      I guess they already announced that this year is last together with Vodafone and at November(?) they will announce new title sponsor (probably some mexican big $$$ one).

  13. Eggry (@eggry) said on 16th May 2013, 13:11

    Great news, but I’m not convinced Honda’s ability…maybe start of disaster for Mclaren?

    • Klaas (@klaas) said on 16th May 2013, 13:31

      maybe start of disaster for Mclaren?

      My friend, McLaren’s disaster started the minute they decided to sign 2 non-top drivers. Or was it when they put Whitmarsh in charge? Even if Honda performs a miracle and brings out some very decent engines, it’s all gonna be in vain without a top driver.

  14. Cristian (@theseeker) said on 16th May 2013, 13:46

    I wonder how the car would look then…

    Something close to this, maybe

  15. Alex Bkk (@alex-bkk) said on 16th May 2013, 14:07

    Ermmm… 2015. For all practical purposes Honda will be entering F1 as a new engine supplier. I don’t think that any of their past experience in F1 will amount to a hill of beans in their first few seasons. Whitmarsh spews out too much history and contemporary corporate blather with this reunion that I doubt will be able see the light of day on the grid until maybe 2018.

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