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.
The announcement made today 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 led the way 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.
Since its Formula 1 debut at the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix, McLaren (based in Woking) 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 has been able to confirm the extensions of other 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.
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.
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO, McLaren Group, described the move as fantastic news as the team welcomed back Honda to Formula 1.
“Together, we’re about to embark on a new and extremely exciting chapter in McLaren’s history,” he said. “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.”
“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.”