This just in: The McLaren-Honda partnership is set to return to Formula 1 in 2015, after what will by then be a six-year absence for the Japanese company from the sport. Honda will supply the British racing squad with 1.6-liter turbo V6 engines and has reportedly begun development of these mills--which are part of the formula's overhaul from 2014--at its Tochigi facility in Japan.
Of course, longtime F1 fans know the historical significance of this. The last time McLaren and Honda teamed up (1988 to 1992), the pairing swept both drivers' and constructors' championships from 1988 to 1991. It was an era made even more iconic and memorable with two of the sport's greatest legends driving the cars to devastating effect against the rest of the grid and, quite relentlessly, against each other.
"It's a partnership synonymous with success," says Martin Whitmarsh, team principal of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team. "Together during the '80s and the '90s, McLaren and Honda won 44 grands prix and eight world championships. Together in 1988, we created the most successful Formula 1 car of all time, the all-conquering McLaren-Honda MP4/4, which was driven to victory 15 times out of 16 by Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.
No doubt McLaren sought to renew the partnership not long after its current engine supplier, Mercedes-Benz, had formed its own F1 outfit in 2010. (Interestingly, the German firm bought out 2009 champions Brawn GP, which had been formed from the ashes of the Honda team when the Japanese carmaker pulled out at the end of 2008.) McLaren will surely be hoping for the collaboration to be as successful as the prior one, given its current dip in form.
This brings to mind McLaren protege and self-confessed Senna fan Lewis Hamilton, who moved from McLaren to Mercedes at the beginning of this season. He's enjoying a far more superior silver car (albeit a rubber-shredding one) at the moment, but will he feel a twinge of regret for potentially missing out on driving a McLaren-Honda? Only the speed of the package will tell us in 2015.
Photo from Vodafone McLaren Mercedes