Today Honda confirmed its 2015 return to formula one, announcing it will supply engines to its 80s and 90s works partner McLaren.
Honda pulled out of F1 amid the global financial crisis at the end of 2008, with its Brackley based team becoming Brawn GP and then Mercedes. Before the switch to Honda in 2015, McLaren said on Thursday it will continue to work “diligently and professionally” with Mercedes power in 2014, as F1 transitions to turbo V6 power. Honda president Takanobu Ito said: “We have the greatest respect for the FIA’s decision to introduce these new regulations”.
From the start of the 2015 season, McLaren’s Formula 1 cars will race using Honda engines and energy recovery systems, renewing an association that became one of the most successful and powerful in Formula 1 history during the 1980s and ’90s.
Today’s announcement not only heralds Honda’s decision to take on the challenge of Formula 1 after a six-season absence, but also signals the reappearance of Honda turbo power in grand prix racing. Honda broke new ground in the 1980s by creating a turbocharged engine that was unparalleled in both its output and its efficiency. Those same challenges have once again brought the Japanese manufacturer back to Formula 1 as grand prix racing adapts to the introduction of an all-new 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 formula from next year.
Honda will develop its engines at its R&D facility in Tochigi, Japan, where it has already begun development of its all-new 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 Formula 1 engine.
Today’s announcement further emphasises McLaren’s position as one of the world’s most dynamic, successful and attractive partners for major multi-national corporations.
Since its Formula 1 debut at the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix, McLaren has won an equal number of grands prix (182) as Ferrari – and more than any other Formula 1 team. McLaren has also won the Le Mans 24 Hours race at its first attempt, has taken three Indianapolis 500 victories, and has won a record 43 races in North America’s prestigious Can-Am sportscar series.
Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd was founded in 1963. In McLaren’s 50th anniversary year, it is a mark of the depth of trust and respect the company enjoys with its many partners that it has within the past few months been able to confirm the extensions of record-breaking relationships with the likes of Hugo Boss (32 years continuous sponsorship), TAG Heuer (28 years) and Kenwood (23 years) – three brands that shared in the glory of the first successful McLaren-Honda partnership between 1988 and ’92.
In recent decades, McLaren has grown to become an internationally recognised, highly innovative group of high-technology companies, its expertise ranging from high-performance simulation to electronic systems to materials science. That breadth of intelligence makes McLaren a particularly attractive partner for Honda, and will enable the two world-class engineering companies to form a highly impactful technology partnership.
Moreover, the McLaren-Honda partnership rekindles memories of one of the most dominant partnerships in motorsport history: between 1988 and ’92 McLaren and Honda won eight world championships and 44 grands prix, took 53 pole positions and set 30 fastest laps – all in just 80 grands prix.
In 1988, the partnership created arguably the single most successful Formula 1 car of all time: the all-conquering McLaren-Honda MP4/4, which was driven to victory by Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in an amazing 15 of the season’s 16 grands prix.
It is against that backdrop that McLaren and Honda now commit to building afresh the strongest possible partnership in Formula 1.
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO, McLaren Group, said:
“It’s fantastic news for everyone who loves Formula 1 to be able to welcome Honda back to Formula 1. Together, we’re about to embark on a new and extremely exciting chapter in McLaren’s history.
“Like McLaren, Honda is a company with motor racing woven into the fabric of its heritage. We’re proud and thrilled to be joining forces once more to take on the world in Formula 1. Whilst both companies are fully aware that we’re embarking on a very demanding journey together, we’re hugely committed to the success of the partnership, and we’ll spend the next 18 months working together to ensure that we’re fully established and competitive ahead of our first grand prix together in 2015.
“The names of McLaren and Honda are synonymous with success in Formula 1, and, for everyone who works for both companies, the weight of our past achievements together lies heavily on our shoulders. But it’s a mark of the ambition and resolve we both share that we want once again to take McLaren-Honda to the very pinnacle of Formula 1 success. Together we have a great legacy – and we’re utterly committed to maintaining it.
“Honda has built a reputation as a worldwide engineering giant, but its roots, its specialism and its passion lie in the advancement of the internal combustion engine. Throughout its history, Honda has pioneered engine technology in road cars, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. Indeed, its experience as a manufacturer of turbocharged engines is unequalled by any other car manufacturer currently competing in Formula 1.
“McLaren and Honda share an unswerving commitment to high-technology, to innovation and to performance. Together we’ll form a lasting partnership that will deliver success on the track, backed up by world-leading R&D and engineering intelligence.
“Finally, 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. 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.”
Takanobu Ito, President and CEO of Honda Motor Co. Ltd. said:
“Ever since its establishment, Honda has been a company which grows by taking on challenges in racing. Honda has a long history of advancing our technologies and nurturing our people by participating in the world’s most prestigious automobile racing series. 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.
“The corporate slogan of Honda is “The Power of Dreams”. This slogan represents our strong desire to pursue and realize our dreams together with our customers and fans.
“Together with McLaren, one of the most distinguished F1 constructors, Honda will mark a new beginning in our challenges in F1.”
2009 world champion Jenson Button said:
“I’ve already enjoyed a long and successful working relationship with Honda. I first raced a Formula 1 car powered by a Honda engine in 2003, and I was a works Honda Formula 1 driver between 2006 and ’08, winning my first grand prix in Hungary in 2006 in a Honda Formula 1 car, so I know exactly how passionate Honda is about motorsport, and Formula 1 in particular.
“The challenge set by Formula 1’s new technical regulations provides Honda with the perfect opportunity to return to the pinnacle of motorsport. Honda is one of the most experienced and accomplished builders of turbocharged engines anywhere in the world, has always treated Formula 1 as a platform for world-beating technical innovation, and will surely relish the opportunity once again to showcase on a global sporting stage its engine technicians’ unparalleled engineering prowess.
“Equally, I grew up watching McLaren-Honda Formula 1 cars racing and winning around the world – they wrote their own glorious chapter of Formula 1 history, in fact. Even now, picturing those unmistakable red-and-white cars evokes vivid memories of some of the most dramatic and exciting motor racing the world has ever seen.
“McLaren-Honda: I know how much passion, success and pride are encapsulated within just those two words. And that’s why I’m so thrilled and excited about what’s not only a fantastic opportunity for the team, but also a great development for Formula 1 fans and the sport as a whole.”
Sergio Perez said:
“I was born in 1990 – the year Ayrton Senna won the second of his three world championships driving for McLaren-Honda – and I’ve grown up always knowing just how much that era lives on in the hearts and minds of motorsport fans around the world.
“Of course, Ayrton is my hero, as he’s a hero to many millions of people living in Central America and South America. So today’s announcement not only rekindles all the fantastic memories of that successful era, but it also starts a new age – which can be even more exciting.
“Honda is one of Formula 1’s greatest ever engine manufacturers. It has had so much success in motorsport, and I believe the time is now right for Honda to be returning to Formula 1.
“But I’d go farther than that. I believe McLaren-Honda was one of the greatest partnerships in world sport, in fact, and everyone in the whole of Formula 1 hugely respects that legacy. That’s why everyone at McLaren and at Honda is so determined to create an era of world championship domination in Formula 1 for a second time.
“As McLaren celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, this announcement looks far into the future. It’s history in the making.”
Jean Todt, President, FIA, said:
“I am very happy to hear about Honda’s important decision to return to Formula 1 with McLaren from 2015.
“The introduction of the new powertrain next year, in the form of a 1.6-litre V6 engine with direct injection and energy recovery, is a very exciting challenge and demonstrates a vision for the future of the sport.
“I am sure that Honda will become a strong contender in years to come.”
Bernie Ecclestone, CEO, Formula One Group, said:
“It is a great pleasure to see Honda back in Formula 1. Their engine technology and passion for motorsport make them a natural Formula 1 contender.”
At a glance, the McLaren-Honda partnership in numbers:
– 5 years of partnership – 1988 to ’92
– 80 grands prix starts
– 53 pole positions – a 66 per cent strike rate
– 44 victories – a 55 per cent win rate
– 30 fastest laps – 10 in 1988 alone
– 8 world championships – drivers’ titles for Ayrton Senna (1988, 1990, 1991) and Alain Prost (1989), and constructors’ titles in 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1991
– 3 race-winning engine configurations – 1.5-litre turbo V6, 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V10, 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V12
Info & Images: McLaren