Honda on Thursday confirmed its 2015 return to formula one, announcing it will supply engines to its 80s and 90s works partner McLaren.
"We're proud and thrilled to be joining forces once more to take on the world in formula one," McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh said.
The carmaker will produce its 1.6 litre V6 racing engines at its plant in Tochigi, Japan, while McLaren will manage chassis development and manufacture.
Honda pulled out of F1 at the end of 2008, soon after the onset of the global financial crisis; its Brackley-based team became Brawn GP and then Mercedes.
Before it switches to Honda in 2015, McLaren has committed to continue to work "diligently and professionally" with Mercedes power in 2014, as F1 transitions to turbo V6 power.
Honda president Takanobu Ito said: "We have the greatest respect for the FIA's decision to introduce these new regulations".
McLaren wants Button for new Honda era
McLaren on Thursday opened the door for Jenson Button to lead the charge for the new works Honda partnership beginning in 2015.
Button's existing contract does not extend that far, and so when the 33-year-old was mentioned and quoted in Thursday's official statement, it did not say if the Briton would still be in the cockpit.
But McLaren's managing director Jonathan Neale said on Thursday: "I was just laughing with Jenson about it.
"Jenson will drive here as long as he wants to.
"He fits our values and our culture really well. He's here with the workforce this morning and it's more a question of hoping he will still be here in 2015," he added.
Neale said the Honda deal is essentially a "works" one, but clarified that there is no exclusivity -- meaning the Japanese manufacturer could sign customer teams.
"All manufacturers and engine suppliers coming into formula one know that they do so with an expectation that, should they be required, they are prepared to supply more than one team," he said.
Neale said McLaren is currently "the only team working with Honda", but rumours suggest Sauber and Lotus have made enquiries to the Japanese marque about price.
Commenting on this exciting development, 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.
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. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Mr. Jean Todt, the President of FIA and to Mr. Bernie Ecclestone, the CEO of Formula One Group who showed great understanding and cooperation to help realize our participation in F1 racing. 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."
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO of McLaren Group Limited said:
"The names of McLaren and Honda are synonymous with success in Formula One, 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."
Jean Todt, President of FIA said:
"I am very happy to hear about Honda's important decision to return to Formula One with McLaren from 2015.
The introduction of the new power train next year, in the form of a 1.6 litre, 6 cylinder engine with direct injection and energy recovery, is a very exciting challenge and demonstrates a vision for the future of the sport. I am sure that Honda will become a strong contender in the years to come."
Bernie Ecclestone, CEO of Formula One Group said:
"It is a great pleasure to see Honda back in Formula One. Their engine technology and passion for motor sports make them a natural Formula One contender."
2009 world champion Jenson Button said:
“I’ve already enjoyed a long and successful working relationship with Honda. I first raced a Formula 1 car powered by a Honda engine in 2003, and I was a works Honda Formula 1 driver between 2006 and ’08, winning my first grand prix in Hungary in 2006 in a Honda Formula 1 car, so I know exactly how passionate Honda is about motorsport, and Formula 1 in particular.
“The challenge set by Formula 1’s new technical regulations provides Honda with the perfect opportunity to return to the pinnacle of motorsport.
Honda is one of the most experienced and accomplished builders of turbocharged engines anywhere in the world, has always treated Formula 1 as a platform for world-beating technical innovation, and will surely relish the opportunity once again to showcase on a global sporting stage its engine technicians’ unparalleled engineering prowess.
“Equally, I grew up watching McLaren-Honda Formula 1 cars racing and winning around the world – they wrote their own glorious chapter of Formula 1 history, in fact. Even now, picturing those unmistakable red-and-white cars evokes vivid memories of some of the most dramatic and exciting motor racing the world has ever seen.
“McLaren-Honda: I know how much passion, success and pride are encapsulated within just those two words. And that's why 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.”
Sergio Perez said:
“I was born in 1990 – the year Ayrton Senna won the second of his three world championships driving for McLaren-Honda – and I’ve grown up always knowing just how much that era lives on in the hearts and minds of motorsport fans around the world.
“Of course, Ayrton is my hero, as he’s a hero to many millions of people living in Central America and South America. So today’s announcement not only rekindles all the fantastic memories of that successful era, but it also starts a new age – which can be even more exciting.
“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.
"But I’d go farther than that. I believe McLaren-Honda was one of the greatest partnerships in world sport, in fact, and everyone in the whole of Formula 1 hugely respects that legacy. That’s why everyone at McLaren and at Honda is so determined to create an era of world championship domination in Formula 1 for a second time.
“As McLaren celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, this announcement looks far into the future. It’s history in the making.”
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