Honda has confirmed a ‘joint project’ with McLaren to return to Formula 1 in 2015.
In a press conference in Tokyo, Honda’s CEO Takanobu Ito confirmed that the Japanese manufacturer will supply McLaren with engines and ERS (Energy Recovery System) from the 2015 season.
McLaren was supplied by Honda between 1988 and 1992, securing both championships for four successive seasons, as well as a 55% win rate.
The deal means McLaren’s 20 year partnership with Mercedes will end at the end of 2014. The partnership has seen 78 race wins, three drivers’ title and a Constructors Championship.
Honda competed as a manufacturer team between 2006 and 2008, winning the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2006 with Jenson Button but pulled out of the sport at the end of 2008 due to the financial crisis.
Ito confirmed that Honda decided to return to the sport as a result of the new 1.6 litre turbocharged V6 power units, which will be introduced next season.
“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,” said Ito.
“Honda will take on new challenges in the new era of Formula 1 racing”.
Honda will develop its engines at its R&D facility in Tochigi, Japan. Development of the engine is already underway.
“I am delighted to continue a new chapter of our legendary partnership,” said McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh.
“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.”
The team will be called ‘McLaren Honda’.
The Japanese manufacturer has yet to confirm whether they will supply any other teams.
McLaren drivers Button and Sergio Perez also expressed their delight at the news.
“McLaren-Honda: I know how much passion, success and pride are encapsulated within just those two words,” said Button, who raced for Honda between 2006 and 2008.
“I’ve already enjoyed a long and successful working relationship with Honda, so I know exactly how passionate Honda is about motorsport, and Formula 1 in particular.”
“I’m so thrilled and excited about what’s not only a fantastic opportunity for the team, but also a great development for Formula 1 fans and the sport as a whole.”
Perez adds, “Honda is one of Formula 1’s greatest ever engine manufacturers. It has had so much success in motorsport, and I believe the time is now right for Honda to be returning to Formula 1.”
FIA president Jean Todt and Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone are pleased with the development.
“I am very happy to hear about Honda’s important decision to return to Formula 1 with McLaren from 2015,” said Todt. “The introduction of the new powertrain next year, in the form of a 1.6-litre V6 engine with direct injection and energy recovery, is a very exciting challenge and demonstrates a vision for the future of the sport.”
“It is a great pleasure to see Honda back in Formula 1. Their engine technology and passion for motorsport make them a natural Formula 1 contender,” added Ecclestone.