Sunday, May 19, 2013

Honda Rekindling McLaren Partnership for 2015 Formula 1 Season Return

BAR-Honda F1 Car Replica at Georgian Auto Show 2005
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

A sport known for forward thinking, deep preparations are underway for the 2014 Formula 1 season even as the 2013 tour has started. The 2014 Formula 1 tour will premiere with the first significant set of rule changes to the cars and engines for more than five years. As many established players in the sport are adapting to the new regulations, the opportunity exists for other parties to commit to the series. For the case of Honda, the 2014 regulations is just right for another fight for the top of the grand prix podium.

Announcing Thursday of a renewed commitment to Formula 1, Honda pledges production of a turbocharged, direct-injected 1.6 liter engine complying with upcoming series rules. In addition to confirming their involvement in Formula 1 competition, the Japanese auto company was able to declare a partnership with veteran operation McLaren. The McLaren Honda team formation will become a regular sight on the Formula 1 racing grid starting in the 2015 season. President and CEO of Honda Motor Company Limited Takanobu Ito enthusiastically touts the engine news. Ito says, "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."

Honda's 2015 Formula 1 return marks the fourth stint that the Japanese auto company will participate in the open wheel series. First operating as a constructor in 1964, Honda's initial efforts eventually resulted in grand prix victories at the 1966 Mexican Grand Prix and the 1967 Italian Grand Prix. Withdrawing from the sport after the 1968 season, Honda not return to Formula 1 competition again until 1983. Rejoining the series as an engine supplier, an partnership with Williams F1 team garnered Honda the recognition for powering a champion-winning race car in 1987 driven by Nelson Piquet. By the end of the 1980s, the hotly dominant Honda engine was powering Team Lotus and famously McLaren. Honda left Formula 1 for a second time after the 1992 season. Though Honda's next official return to the series would not occur under 2000, Mugen Motorsports (a company founded by the son of Soichiro Honda) did offer a relative presence for Honda. From 1991 to 1999, Mugen supplied a V-10 engine it several teams. The unofficial Honda involvement propelled Ligier and Jordan Grand Prix to victory. When Honda returned to Formula 1 in an official capacity in 2000 with the British American Racing (BAR) team, the 'H' brand would ride as a constructor once again. Acquiring ownership in BAR in 2004, Honda's commitment would be low in yielding previous success. Jenson Button's 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix victory was the sole occasion Honda would won before their withdraw after the 2008 season.

The history between Honda and McLaren in the world's premiere motorsport series has been storied. From 1988 to 1992, drivers Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Gerhard Berger were instrumental in creating memorable appearance for the McLaren-Honda race cars. During their period together, Honda and McLaren took four-straight Formula 1 constructor championships. McLaren will run Mercedes-Benz powerplant for the 2014 season as the turbocharged Honda engine will be undergoing development for a 2015 entrance. The 2015 Formula 1 season debut is due to McLaren's current agreement with Mercedes-Benz which will end after 20 seasons together. “ We aim to cap our long-standing partnership with the same ambition and resolve with which we began it: namely, to keep winning.”, said McLaren Group CEO Martin Whitmarsh.

No comments:

Post a Comment