The two companies made the announcement earlier today, ending years of speculation of Honda’s possible return to motorsport’s top echelon.
By supplying engines to McLaren, a partnership that dates back to the 1980s, and one of the most cherished in the sport, is being revived.
From the start of the 2015 season, McLaren's F1 cars will race using Honda engines and energy recovery systems, ending the British team’s longstanding partnership with current supplier Mercedes-Benz. The team will officially be known as McLaren Honda, too.
With F1 adopting turbocharged 1.6-liter V-6 engines from next season onwards, the timing of Honda’s return is ideal. The Japanese automaker’s decision to take on the challenge of F1 after a six-season absence signals the reappearance of Honda turbo power in grand prix racing. Honda’s engines of the ‘80s and early ‘90s were considered some of the most powerful and reliable, and they helped secure multiple championships for the likes of Ayrton Senna and Nelson Piquet.
At the same time, Honda is gearing up for the resurgence of its NSX sports car (to be sold as an Acura in the U.S.), and though it won’t be turbocharged the NSX will be packing a V-6 and F1-inspired energy recovery systems.
Honda is already in the process of developing its new F1 engine. Work is taking place at the automaker’s R&D facility in Tochigi, Japan, where many of its production engines are also developed.
“Honda has a long history of advancing our technologies and nurturing our people by participating in the world’s most prestigious automobile racing series,” Honda CEO Takanobu Ito said at today’s announcement. “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.”
Meanwhile, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said, “It’s fantastic news for everyone who loves F1 to be able to welcome Honda back to F1.”
Though it’s yet to be confirmed, current McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez are likely to be driving the new Honda-powered McLaren F1 cars in 2015. Button, incidentally, was a driver for the Honda F1 team between 2006 and 2008.