Honda to Return to Formula 1 in 2015 with McLaren
Confirming a rumor that has been making the rounds for years now, and picked up quite a bit of steam within the past six months, Honda has announced it will return to Formula 1 as an engine supplier beginning in 2015. Honda didn’t explicitly say why it wouldn’t join up next season when the 1.6-liter turbocharged V-6 becomes the series’s formula, but as the automaker will enter into a “joint venture” with McLaren, we expect the Woking-based operation’s contractual obligations to run Mercedes-Benz engines in 2014 has something to do with it.
Somewhat ironically, Honda withdrew from F1 after the 2008 season, turning over its team to Ross Brawn, who, with Jenson Button, won the constructor’s and driver’s titles in 2009. Brawn F1 was powered by Mercedes, who then bought the team and turned it into a factory effort ahead of the 2010 season.
The combination of McLaren and Honda evokes memories of their last partnership, which delivered driver’s titles to Ayrton Senna in 1988, 1990, and 1991, and Alain Prost in 1989. The pair won 15 of 16 races in the 1988 season. Honda won the constructor’s title each year from 1986 until 1991, first with Williams and then McLaren. Honda withdrew after the 1992 campaign only to return in 2000 as an engine supplier to the BAR team, which it took over ahead of the 2006 season with so-so results until it again withdrew from the sport.
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In announcing his company’s return to F1, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito 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.” Given the new rules for 2014, “advanced technologies” will include turbos and energy recovery technology for the new 1.6-liter V-6 engine, which is already under development in Tochigi, Japan.
By John Lamm