- Honda will return to Formula 1 racing in 2015 as the engine supplier for McLaren, the automaker announced on Thursday.
- McLaren will end a 20-year relationship with Mercedes-Benz.
- The announcement comes on the verge of a dramatic change in the power of F1 machines, which goes into effect next season.
TOKYO — Honda will return to Formula 1 racing as the engine supplier for McLaren in 2015, the automaker announced on Thursday.
The Japanese company, which has a rich heritage in Formula 1, participated as a constructor, providing its own chassis and engines, from 1964 through 1968 and returned in that role in 2006, but abruptly quit the sport at the end of the 2008 season.
In its new role, Honda will develop, manufacture and supply engines and energy-recovery systems for McLaren, while the iconic Formula 1 team, which has partnered with various engine suppliers over the years since it was founded by Bruce McLaren in 1966, will continue to engineer the chassis.
Honda will replace Mercedes-Benz as engine supplier for the British team. It will be a reprise of the relationship between Honda and McLaren, which partnered from 1988 through 1992 with the great Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, winning driving championships in the first four years of that combination.
Senna won all three of his championship titles in McLaren-Honda machines.
"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," said McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh in a statement.
"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."
The change comes as Formula 1 is moving from its present V8 engines to new turbocharged V6 models with energy recovery technology that has been explored in recent seasons, part of the racing organization's goal of becoming more "green." Technological achievement is a driving force in Honda, with its latest marketing motto, "The Power of Dreams."
A Honda press release noted, "Participation in Formula 1 under these new regulations will encourage even further technological progress in both these areas. Furthermore, a new generation of Honda engineers can learn the challenges and the thrills of operating at the pinnacle of motorsport."
It is anticipated that Formula 1's new engine regulations will help the automaker develop technology for its mass-volume cars.
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."
Edmunds says: Honda had its greatest success and McLaren confirmed its status as one of the all-time legendary Formula 1 teams during their earlier partnership. With wholesale change taking place in the sport beginning next season, it is certain that Honda will be ready to hit the pavement running in 2015.