Honda 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 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.”
Honda credited its return to Formula One’s planned engine regulations change.
“Throughout its history, Honda has passionately pursued improvements in the efficiency of the internal combustion engine and in more recent years, the development of pioneering energy management technologies such as hybrid systems,” it said in a statement. “Participation in F1 under these new regulations will encourage even further technological progress in both these areas.”
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