I was having this conversation a few days ago about Honda and it’s possible return to F1, we had decided that it would probably return as an engine manufacturer in the not too distant future given the 2014 engine reg changes, and likely want to partner a team that they have a previous association with.
Given F1’s current bout of nostalgia for names/brands of the past (lotus, Williams/Renault…etc. etc.) surely it isn’t inconceivable if not 2014, soon after!
So, I would say it’s unlikely they will team up with McLaren in the near future. If Honda would return to the sport in say 2014, McLaren would probably first want to see if the Honda engines are any good.
I think if they would return to the sport, they will be supplying a smaller team, Sauber for instance.
I don’t know why people always assume that Honda expressing interest in Formula 1 means they will supply engines to McLaren. As has already been pointed out, McLaren are under contract until 2015, and have repeatedly said they are very happy with Mercedes.
What I’m a little bit worried about is if they go forward with the new engines for 2014, that someone like Ford, Honda, or Toyota, who can pry loose loads of money for an engine development program will spend the necessary capital to have a truly world-beating engine and will sell it to only one team, thereby creating a market for the future. If someone does do this, we may see something like the past arms races, or even something like the 1988 season, if someone is willing to spend the money to create the impression that you must have their engines to be competitive.