16 May 2013

Honda confirms return to Formula 1 in 2015 with McLaren

Words by Christopher Kho
honda formula1
Soichiro Honda was once quoted saying: “If Honda does not race, there is no Honda.” And one of their biggest undertaking was Formula 1.
It started as early as the 60's where they enjoyed success as a full-fledged team. They then returned in the 80's as an engine supplier for McLaren and won the driver's and constructor's championship from '88 to '92 with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. Honda even had a short stint as a constructor a few years ago, until the company pulled the plug in 2008 due to limited success.
Sadly, Honda's motorsports program has been dormant for the past few years, which made us wonder wether Honda has lost their way. Well, I'm glad to let everyone know that their dry spell is almost over. That's because Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has just announced their return to the FIA Formula 1 World Championship from the 2015 season onwards as an engine supplier for McLaren once again.
Honda was lured back into Formula 1 by the new regulations that require the use of 1.6L direct-injection turbocharged V6 engines with energy recovery systems from 2014. They see it as the perfect avenue to develop the efficiency of their engines and energy management technologies of hybrid systems. But more importantly, they want the new generation of Honda engineers to learn the challenges and thrills of operating at the highest tier in motorsports.
Yes! Honda is finally ready to be fun again.
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.”
In the new contract with McLaren, Honda will be in charge of the development, manufacture, and supply of the new turbocharged engine, including the energy recovery system. And thus, the team will be renamed McLaren Honda in 2015.
“The corporate slogan of Honda is “The Power of Dreams”. This slogan represents our strong desire to pursue and realize our dreams together with our customers and fans. Together with McLaren, one of the most distinguished F1 constructors, Honda will mark a new beginning in our challenges in F1,” Ito added.
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO of McLaren Group Limited, then reminisced about their past victories with Honda: “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. 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.”
Where does that leave McLaren's current engine supplier Mercedes-Benz? Technically, their contract ends in 2014, which means McLaren is free to choose whoever engine supplier they want in 2015. And in this case, it's Honda. I'm sure they've wanted to make the switch a long time ago, except that Daimler AG used to own a 40% stake in McLaren. But all of it was sold back when Mercedes-Benz decided to run a team of their own in 2009. So from 2015 onwards, the three-pointed star will have to prove that they too can win a championship by themselves.