Honda tipped to announce F1 comeback

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In the round-up: Honda could announce their F1 comeback with McLaren in 2015 as early as today.


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Honda to return to F1 in 2015 with McLaren – sources (Reuters)

“Honda’s Chief Executive Takanobu Ito is set to make an official announcement as early as Thursday, one of the sources added.”

Bernie Ecclestone: Formula 1 boss reportedly facing bribery charges (BBC)

“Sooner or later somebody will look into it, which they have, and then they will have to make a decision on what they decide.”

Read the original story (in German) here

Mercedes benefiting from Kubica help (Autosport)

Toto Wolff: “He is getting used to driving the F1 car again and we are benefiting from his expertise. It helps the team and it helps him.”

Q&A with Toro Rosso’s Franz Tost (F1)

“We think that the costs for the power train will be 100 percent more that it is now. You have to swallow that in 2014. 2015 and 2016 will hopefully see a dramatic fall in expenses, but in 2014 you have to dig deep into your pocket.”

Driver rivalry won’t boil over – Brawn (ESPN)

“Our drivers get on well, they have raced together before, they have got some nice history together, but we all know there will be events and incidents where they get angry with each other. But that’s natural, they are competitors and it’s important that we recover from those very quickly so it doesn’t become damaging. But they will have their moments for sure.”

Caterham F1 boss Mike Gascoyne to join world of ocean racing (The Independent)

“From 200 miles an hour down to 20 – and sometimes a lot less than that – is in prospect for Caterham F1 boss Mike Gascoyne as he prepares to join the world of ocean racing.”

No quick fix for Merc (Sky)

Mark Hughes: “The symptom of the Mercedes problem is that, left to the car’s own devices, the rear tyres will run about 20C too hot. There are things the team and the drivers can do to keep tyre temperatures down, but at these tracks even they were not enough to prevent a temperature threshold being crossed, beyond which there is no bringing them back.”


Comment of the day

Max Jacobson thinks Caterham’s pace in Spain was encouraging:

Are Caterham possibly on for their first points score this year after all, considering the difficulties Williams and Sauber are finding themselves in? I think they could definitely do it in a wet race or one with high attrition…
Max Jacobson (@Vettel1)

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On this day in F1

Luigi Villoresi was born on this day in 1909. He enjoyed the best years of his racing career before the start of the world championship, though he appeared on the podium eight times after 1950.

He joined Lancia with former Ferrari team mate Alberto Ascari in 1954. But Ascari’s death the following year and Lancia’s subsequent withdrawal left him without a drive. After a handful of appearances the following year he retired, and lived until 1997.

Here he is scoring his first podium finish of the world championship era at Spa-Francorchamps in 1951:

Image © Honda

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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77 comments on “Honda tipped to announce F1 comeback”

  1. Honda to return to F1 in 2015 with McLaren – sources (Reuters)

    “Honda’s Chief Executive Takanobu Ito is set to make an official announcement as early as Thursday, one of the sources added.”

    It would be cool to see McLaren and Honda team up again, the Mercedes-McLaren partnership is the longest in history between an engine supplier and private team, it was getting old IMO.

    I remember how back in the late 80’s and early 90’s McLaren usually had a considerable power advantage over Williams-Renault and Ferrari, not that I think it will happen in 2015.

    Are Caterham possibly on for their first points score this year after all, considering the difficulties Williams and Sauber are finding themselves in? I think they could definitely do it in a wet race or one with high attrition…

    I predict that Marussia will score before Caterham.

    1. Marussia have a certain Frenchman… Well, Caterham does as well, but one appears more capable of scoring a point than the other based on talent alone.

      1. Yeah, but Marussia haven’t developed their car nearly as well as Caterham has – it’s at the point where Bianchi’s talent alone isn’t enough for him to run down Pic or VDG on a consistent basis.

        1. Marussia haven’t developed their car nearly as well as Caterham has

          I think that is not completely true @jroconnel, Marussia has been steadily adding pieces to the car to make it faster. Caterham instead brought this major update now, but they work in bigger steps with larger intervals. Its well possible that Caterham will now bring their next bigger package only in a race or 3-4, while Marussia keep adding small bits.
          Both seem to be able to get the updates working though, so who knows they might challenge for points if Williams does not find the sweetspot this year.

          1. @bascb

            I’d say Caterham has been adding piece as well, they just didn’t work until Spain. Seems that they’ve hit the spot and are heading to sensible improvement. Let’s see the next chapters.

          2. No, @jcost, as they announced at the car launch, they felt the car was pretty much an in between solution before they were able to bring their 2013 aero package in Barcelona. Some of it made it on the car at Bahrain to speed up a bit, but it really was one big package, much as planned.

        2. remember Bianchi had much more experience in an f1 car over his team mate, and van de garde early doors. The gap appears to be closing now which could be due to the drivers catching up as much as the cars are.

          1. Bianchi is too young to have attained saturation point already, isn’t he? It is more to the car than the drivers’ learning curve, I suppose.

    2. I predict that Marussia will score before Caterham.

      I kind of hope they do. Lotus/Caterham have had three seasons as the best of the minnows, and have so far done nothing. It’s about time somebody else had a go.

    3. Caterham made a gigantic step forward in f1 terms. Their new upgrade made all those seemingly superfluous parts work reasonably well. Caterham resurgence was not in my book but they are set to beat Marussia, even if Marussia too has made good progress.

    4. I wonder how a 2015 introduction by Honda would work given that development stops early in 2014, I have no doubt about Honda’s ability to produce a good engine but what happens if it is to good ? and if they make an engine that is de-tuned to match the others what is in it for them?

      1. I predict that the new Honda engines will make McLaren as fast and competitive as Honda themselves were in 2007-08. :p

        1. Will be familiar territory for Button then! And another WDC at the end?

          I doubt Honda would make the same mistake in how they freeze the engine, ending up behind the curve by being too close to the ‘spirit’ of those regulations.

          1. You’re a fool if you think Honda have not been working on the 2015 engine since the rules were announced years ago by now. The Japanese Manufacturers can’t abide the shame of being beaten so they will have had a prototype engine on the dyno before deciding to commit.

          2. @coefficient, isn’t that the truth though for any manufacture who is seriously looking at getting into any form of motorsports? You prototype & design on the downlow meanwhile you’re running the equivalent of a “fantasy team” figuring out what would the budget & expenses be if we were competing this year, etc.

      2. Mclaren already had a Honda engine in the back of a car last year. I’ve got a photo of it from one of my visits to MTC in June

    5. As much as I like Marussia to finish ahead of Caterham, I have to admit it looks like the developments to their car has put Caterham ahead of Marussia. Marussia have Jules, but how much he can extract from a car (which if pitted against Caterham at this point would be like what Ferrari’s F2012 was to a RBR8 at the beginning of the season in 2012) remains to be seen. But I also expect Marussia not to lag behind in developing their cars through the season.

    6. @kingshark I too thought that initially, but Caterham’s upgrades seem to have really worked for them and I do think their drivers are picking up the pace a bit (particularly van der Garde) so now, given Williams and Saubers issues, I think they could be on for a point…

      1. @Fisha695 Yes it is, I was responding to the comments immediately above mine which were implying that the Honda Motor would be poor.

        My point was meant to argue in a roundabout way that I’m sure Honda have found suffiicient performance from their prototype to be confident they can do a great job when the time comes to hit the track.

        I remember the old 1.5l Turbo in the Williams which produced something like 1500hp in quali trim. Of course they won’t be anywhere near that but it shows they do have expertise in finding serious power from a small capacity motor when aniciliaries like Turbos are permitted.

        I just hope they sort the weight issues which dogged their V10 and V8 engines.

  2. they will have to make a decision on what they decide

    I couldn’t have put it better myself.

    1. Only the Germans have already decided (now the documents are being translated into English to be officially handed to Bernie/his lawyers.), now there will be a bit of time and its pretty likely that there will be a push for a settlement from Bernie (which apparently would be fine for the prosecution as well)

      1. For an economic delict like this, a very heafty fine seems not unreasonable; especially given the suspects age, and lawyers, I am sure his health wouldn’t beat prison anyway @bascb ;)

    2. Monitor cleaning time.

      Note to self: don’t drink coffee while reading F1Fanatic comments!

  3. If you’re Honda, do you start seeking other constructors, or do you just focus on McLaren for the time being?

    1. Buy into Lotus (cheap), to get the name changed to Honda. Keep the infrastructure and staff, do regular cash injections to increase development rate, but essentially keep team running as it is. And supply engines to McLaren as well :)

      1. I can’t imagine they’ll return as a constructor. Probably just as an engine supplier. I wouldn’t mind though.

      2. Why buy Lotus when the rumor is that RB is looking to offload Toro Rosso on the cheap. Though it will be interesting to see if a midfield team like Williams or if one of the 2 back-of-the-pack teams (my bet is on Caterham) jump on the Honda train too.

      3. Good point but like @roald I don’t think they want to a constructor at this stage. Plus, Lotus seems happy with Renault.

        1. Lotus is not happy with Renault. They are not the works team anymore and Renault is set to become the most expensive engine package on the grid in 2014, so I would say Lotus would be very happy to dab even further into a bit of retro and have a JPS liveried Lotus-Honda!

    2. I understood that each engine supplier is obliged to offer their engines to at least one more team, to avoid exclusivity @rjoconnell, already heard rumours of Sauber being interested in Hondas as a customer team.

  4. Nick.UK (@)
    16th May 2013, 0:53

    The tyres on that shopping trolly would probably last longer on Rosbergs car than the Pirelli ones…


    A friend of mine has met Nigel Mansell, and she pointed me in the direction of this video. I thought it was amazing to see how quickly he adapted to the game. Worth a watch if you haven’t already seen it.

  6. So do you guys think that they could be a constructor or an engine supplier.

    1. @f1-98 they are engine supplier for McLaren, but I can’t see them starting their own team judging from how that worked out for them last time! I don’t think they are interested in having their own car as of course performance there is mainly aerodynamic derived, and area I don’t think they are interested in.

      However, I could see them becoming supplier to several teams – Williams is a name that’s been thrown about here, as is Lotus.

  7. While Honda’s return to F1 as an engine supplier would be great news for many reasons, where does that put the relationship between Mercedes and McLaren for the important first year of the new regulations? Mercedes will be reluctant to give away the farm on their engines to the McLaren-Honda partnership, and McLaren won’t want to suffer in their unusual role as customer and not partner.
    I know that the engine regulations are tightly prescribed, but F1 being what it is (secretive, paranoid and hyper-protective) every tiny piece of information gleaned or minute advantage gained (or lost) carries a high price. Interesting times ahead!

    1. Will be a bit awkward indeed.

    2. Mclaren wouldn’t dare try anything funny with regards to taking secret Mercedes information and giving it to Honda. It’s far too big a risk to do anything unethical or illegal with intellectual property after what happened with the industrial espionage incident between them and Ferrari back in 2007.

      I would say that because of Spygate, Mclaren would have to be the most trusted team in F1 due to the repercussions they would face if found guilty of similar offences.

      1. Quite true @calum, and McLaren already is just a customer right now. Mercedes would prefer their own team to win a WCC/WDC, but where McLaren to do it in 2014 it still is better for the company than if Ferrari, Lotus or Red Bull do.

        1. Yeah good points, folks. And I’m reminded of one of the comments Ross Brawn made when it was announced that LH would be leaving Mac and going to Merc. He said that in his opinion the place you want to be as a driver in 2014 and beyond is with a manufacturer based team. Also, for now Macs engines are not their problem and they are not really a threat this year. Their weak links are not in the engine compartment. Right now in a way they are squandering the engine with the bigger problems they have that are holding them back. And for all the data they will have after using next year’s Mercs, much of that will only be so relevant, as in 2015 the chassis/engine marriage will be with a Honda engine…a new ball game.

          So I think that it will be inevitable that Mac will glean some data from next year’s Merc, but they still would have to translate it to perfomance on the track which hits on many facets besides engines, and with a different makers engine in back, any Merc data will only be of small use imho. And Honda will certainly not be relying on said data. They will be confident that they can make a competitive engine all on their own, thank you very much.

  8. BradandCoffee
    16th May 2013, 2:04

    I think Caterham would be wise to put Heikki in the car for Monaco. They’re not competing for individual driver rankings, so they have more freedom to play around with their lineup. I know he lost out to Pic in his first test (where he also didn’t have the upgrade package) but he beat VDG in his next test and I think the team would do well to have a veteran at Monaco.

    Last year Heikki qualified about a second clear of any of the other “new” teams, including his teammate, and only missed Q2 by 2 tenths. He went on to hold 12th for a big chunk of the race in front of Button. I think this will be one of their big chances to score a point by simply putting the car as high as possible, running a clean race, keeping faster cars behind them, and hoping for a little luck in the way of front-runner retirements.

    Would it hurt some feelings (and possibly confidence)? Probably. But that point would be a game changer for them.

    1. I think Pic has been performing pretty well so far this season, and Van der Garde finally found his form too in Barcelona, so it would be strange to reward them by side-lining them for Monaco. Also, VdG finished on the podium in both of last year’s GP2 races so maybe he will go well there.

    2. It is no use putting rookies in a car if you don’t give them time to settle in. Or do you think we should replace Gutierrez with Kobayashi as well? All 2013-rookies started off pretty low profile (with the exception of Bianchi), but all of them are steadily improving (see the driver form guides). The teams should make up the balance after the first half of the season, not just after the first few races.

      1. I agree with that @matthijs, Guttierez showed a very solid race in Barcelona. And VdGarde did pretty decent too with outqualifying pic despite not having all the new bits on. The only one I haven’t seen much positives for so far is Chilton, but his strength for the team never really was his driving the car as such, I guess

      2. BradandCoffee
        16th May 2013, 8:25

        I think you misunderstood (or I wasn’t clear enough). I don’t think they need to be replaced for the full season (that’s a different conversation altogether). Rather, I’m saying that Monaco is such a unique race and a unique opportunity for a team like Caterham that they could benefit from the swap for a single race.

  9. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    16th May 2013, 2:50

    Marketing-wise, McLaren shouldn’t miss the opportunity to change the livery for the old-Senna-days one if this deal happens. And that sole change can lure Hamilton back into the team! He could not resist the chance to drive a white and red McLaren-Honda with his yellow helmet!
    Enough motivation to be champion again!

    1. Marketing would be one one of Honda’s goals here as well. The new NSX is expected to be rolled out in 2015. The original NSX had F1 DNA at its core, and was marketed accordingly. Although the NSX brand speaks for itself…no harm in some extra marketing.

      To add to this, Honda has been in the press for the wrong reasons over the last couple years with a relatively large number of recalls (hasnt affected Toyota for some reason). Getting back into F1 will probably raise their profile again.

      1. Abdurahman (@)
        16th May 2013, 4:47

        that is a great connection your making. I just heard it myself on the radio this morning that honda is setting up the factory in the usa to make the new NSX for 2015. the timing would be spot on. hopefully the new nsx would actually be turbo to go along with the f1 cars not like last time around.

        1. Sounds really good. Combine a resurgent F1 in the US, Honda back with McLaren and the new NSX. Heaven?

          1. @bascb
            And buy Toto Rosso and pair Daly and Koboyashi as drivers :).

          2. *Toro Rosso


    2. Abdurahman (@)
      16th May 2013, 4:45

      the red and white was for marlboro, has nothing to do with honda!

      1. I agree just wondering if they might even consider this. Craig Lowndes in Australia used the same red and white in tribute to Peter Brock for the V8 supercars at last years Bathurst but I’m not sure that would be allowed in F1 for a race let alone for a whole season

      2. It was for Marlboro, but white (with some red) are also Honda’s preferred colours

      3. Black and gold on the Lotus were also there for tobacco. But not anymore.
        So I think it won’t be abproblem.

      4. White is Honda’s traditional racing colour though, always has been even in Motorcylces. Obvioulsy it gets adorned with other sponsors colours too but I think the base white was for Honda because Mclaren were getting their motors for free, it was just fortunate livery synergy that it worked for Mr. Morris too.

    3. @omarr-pepper

      That livery has more to do with Marlboro right? Honda colors are red and white as well, so same colors is possible but that cigarette-box look alike, I don’t think so.

      1. Yeah I doubt a paint scheme would be enough to lure LH back to Mac. I doubt he will ever go back, but certainly not this soon. That said, even though that paint scheme was for Marlboro, it would be great if they come up with something that is similar without being about cigarettes, which of course has been banned.

        BTW, have you seen the concept shots of the next NSX? That car has been out at the big International car shows as a concept for the last couple of years and it truly rocks. And yes it will be built in the U.S. Kind of has a side profile similar to that of the Audi R8. I think it looks amazing.

        Regarding Honda recalls, I don’t think they have had any more than anyone else, and it is Toyota who did take a small beating for their repeated recalls going back a handful of years now, but they’re fine, and the reality is that all car makers have recalls and as long as they deal with them up front and keep their customers happy it has been shown that hearing of recalls doesn’t seem to back very many people off from buying a product in the long run. As I say, all manufacturers have recalls so a consumer would be hard pressed to make a decision on a car purchase based on that.

  10. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    16th May 2013, 3:32

    The shopping car looks faster than the actual Mercedes Nico drives… it must be because the cart has better tyres!

    1. Prrobably not putting as much heat into the tyres @omarr-pepper!

    2. @omarr-pepper Monaco is easier on the tyres, so don’t be quick to judge. I’d love to see Nico take the shopping cart for a couple of laps around Barcelona before I jump to conclusions!

  11. “He is getting used to driving the F1 car again and we are benefiting from his expertise.”

    What expertise can Kubica bring to the team that a world champion and a race winner in his 8th season in F1 can’t?

    On another note, how nice it is to see a Marlboro era McLaren which doesn’t have the Marlboro logos photoshopped out!

    1. I guess with Kubica its another view at it, comments coming from a completely different angle.

    2. @geemac Simulators can be feed data from the cars Friday run with new parts and compared to data without, this can be used to analylize the parts performance with different car set up etc.
      Also Kubica can test upgrades virtually on the car and help with setups during the weeks in which the drivers cannot get back to the factory. This is while Ferrari have a big team of reserve/test drivers, constant development.

      1. Noted about the simulator, but the race drivers do simulator work for the team too.

    3. Hamilton won’t stay with them forever, especially if Nico keeps outperforming him ;)

      Joking aside, I think they’re just doing Robert a favour. He can test his hand mobility and maybe they can design some more ergonomic steering wheel for him. I’m sure that with proper controls he can drive F1 car to the fullest of his ability. After all in the old days of gear sticks drivers were often driving the car one-handed and they were still very fast.

      1. That was my thinking, they are doing him a favour and if him being in the sim helps them develop a few new pieces it will be a bonus.

    4. He can teach them how to configuer an F1 steering wheel to best suit a driver with limited mobility in one arm I guess. Once that has been achieved I guess his innate speed can be used in the Simulator whilst the race and reserve drivers are at the track. They have after all invested heavily in their track to base data transfer capabilities so perhaps he is back home working on setup and beaming data to trackside for real world evaluation much like Paffet does for Mclaren.

  12. Importantly, it seems Honda is really going to announce / come out today –

    “Honda will host a motorsports announcement press conference from 16:00-16:10 on May 16.

  13. Ugh, I have to disagree with the COTD.

    Maybe Caterham made a step forward with thier Spain upgrade, in fact that’s almost 100% in terms of absolute performance, but once again the race was not very revealing of the fact that the Marussias produced even better race pace – they were only being hindered by incidents.

    So it looks like Marussia has made an even bigger leap forward with their new package – because it is true that in Bahrain, Caterham was indeed quicker. In Spain, not.

    1. I forgot to add the conclusion: obviously, if a backmarker team has to score, it would be Marussia first, that would be my bet. Of course this in itself would not rule out a Caterham point-scoring finish, but would made it highly unlikely, frankly.

    2. @atticus-2 it is true that Bianchi was closing on the Caterham in the late stages of the race, but I think qualifying will be the difference and in that sense Caterham seem better. Also, their upgrade package is much more extensive so it is reasonable to assume they may not have maximised its potential as of now.

      I think looking as it is now, Marussia still have the better driver but I think Caterham have the better car.

      1. I think what we have witnessed with Caterham in Bahrain/Barcelona is them bolting John Iley’s (former head of aero at Mclaren) first aero package onto the car and seeing the results straight away. He only joined part way through last year and has probably elected to give himself time to create a package that would be a decent step forward.

        Going forward they absolutely will not want to lose the 10th place payout from FOM so I think John Iley will be bringing plenty of tweaks from now on to stay ahead.

        He is one of the best in the business, Mcalren are clearly missing him.

      2. Indeed, I did not think of the scale of potential exploited from the packages. This could indeed mean Caterham will retake 10th in the pecking order soon.

        Certainly in Monaco, if they indeed have better one lap pace – but I don’t think qualifying will be decisive in most of the upcoming races, so I don’t agree with that argument.

        1. @atticus-2 I guess we’ll just have to wait and see but I definitely think there is more potential to be eked out of both the car and the drivers on Caterham’s side of the camp.

          I only really think qualifying will be important in Monaco just to clarify – Mercedes have proven how irrelevant it is in most races! ;)

  14. Thanks for CotD @keithcollantine, that was kind of unexpected actually!

  15. Thank you Rosberg for starting my day with a smile on my face. Great commercial =)

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