Honda to return to F1 as McLaren engine supplier

By Jim Armstrong, AP, 16 May 2013
© AP Photo/Jean-Marc Follete

Japanese automaker Honda is returning to Formula 1 in 2015 as an engine supplier to McLaren, recreating a partnership that was dominant in the 1980s and 1990s.

Honda president Takanobu Ito announced the decision at a news conference in Tokyo on Thursday, reversing the decision made in 2008 to pull out of the expensive sport due to the effects of the global financial crisis.

F1 is changing to six-cylinder turbo engines next year, making the comeback decision easier because Honda will be able to transfer the technology to its commercial vehicles.

"Honda has a long history of advancing our technologies and nurturing our people by participating in the world's most prestigious automobile racing series," Ito said. "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 was an entrant, constructor and engine supplier in F1 between 1964 and 2008. Rival Japanese manufacturer Toyota pulled out in 2009.

Honda Motor Corp.'s sales have risen amid improving economic conditions in Japan and overseas. The company has also benefited from a weakening yen, as it raises the value of overseas earnings and helps decrease selling prices abroad.

The tie-up renews an association that became one of the most successful and powerful in F1 history during the 1980s and 1990s with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at the wheel.

Between 1988 and 1992 McLaren and Honda won eight world championships and 44 races, took pole position 53 times and set 30 fastest laps - all in just 80 Grands Prix.

"It's fantastic news for everyone who loves F1 to be able to welcome Honda back to F1," McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh said in a statement. "Together, we're about to embark on a new and extremely exciting chapter in McLaren's history. 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 F1."


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