Honda has announced plans to return to the Formula 1 World Championship in 2015, as an engine partner to McLaren.
The company last competed in F1 with its own team, before leaving the sport at the end of 2008, due to the huge financial effort required to run a team, and a history of poor results, many of which were levelled at the car rather than the engine. Ironically, the team became Brawn, and with a Mercedes engine, won both 2009 championships.
From 2014, new F1 regulations require the introduction of a 1.6 litre direct injection turbocharged V6 engine with energy recovery systems. The opportunity to further develop these powertrain technologies through the challenge of racing is central to Honda’s decision to participate in F1.
The company will be in charge of the development, manufacture and supply of the power unit, including the engine and energy recovery system, while McLaren will be in charge of the development and manufacture of the chassis, as well as the management of the new team, McLaren Honda.
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO of McLaren Group Limited comments: “The names of McLaren and Honda are synonymous with success in Formula One, 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 One success. Together we have a great legacy – and we’re utterly committed to maintaining it.”
The last turbocharged F1 engine produced by Honda was seen in the 1988 championship. It won 15 of the 16 races that season, and powered Ayrton Senna to his first title, in the formidable MP4/4.
McLaren currently have a contract with Mercedes, which expires at the end of this year. The team does have an option for using the new Mercedes engine in 2014 and 2015, but has decided to take up just a one year extension. This gives Honda, who are already working on the 2015 engine, time to see how the new regulations work in their first year, while increasing the company’s testing time for a brand new engine.