McLaren say Honda deal reaffirms top team status

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In the round-up: McLaren say it was necessary to find a new works engine partner as Mercedes are prioritising their own factory team.


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McLaren say Honda deal keeps them among F1 elite (Reuters)

McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale: “Mercedes have clearly focused their efforts around Brackley (where their works team is based) and that’s completely understandable. If we are going to compete at the upper echelons, then we need to be punching at that weight.”

McLaren-Honda deal not exclusive (ESPN)

“McLaren says its new engine deal with Honda from 2015 is not exclusive, leaving the door open for other teams to seek a supply deal when the Japanese manufacturer returns to the sport.”

McLaren and Mercedes unaffected by Honda (BBC)

Neale: “Mercedes will give us the information we need. Mercedes engineers and ourselves have been working very closely together.”

Button buoyed by Honda return (Sky)

“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 One fans and the sport as a whole.”

Mallya ‘mantra’ to boost Force India (The Times of India)

“At the time when Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines has estimated debts of $2.5bn [1.63bn] and the income tax department filed a criminal complaint against Mallya over non-payment of PAYE, what could be the reason behind this huge investment?”

Rich lister caught in high-speed Albert Park spin (The Age)

“Multimillionaire online retail warrior Ruslan Kogan has been banned from driving for six months after a high-speed spin on Melbourne’s Grand Prix circuit.”


Comment of the day

Bull Mello is glad to see Honda back in F1:

The return of Honda as an engine supplier is great news. Honda can build a competitive V6 and together with McLaren the resources are there to forge another successful F1 partnership.

McLaren needed to make a move like this and the writing has been on the wall since the Mercedes team was announced. Frankly, their 2014 season chances cannot be a whole lot worse than 2013. If they do experience some unexpected successes while rebuilding, all the better.

No doubt other constructors will want Honda engines too. The fact that Honda will be an engine supplier only will help increase their chances for success this time around.
Bull Mello

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36 comments on “McLaren say Honda deal reaffirms top team status”

  1. Exciting news that Honda is returning in 2015, it’s definitely good for F1. Perhaps more Japanese manufacturers will follow. It will be interesting to see what other teams follow McLaren’s lead though. I’ve heard rumours that Sauber might decide to go for Honda in 2015 as well but I don’t know how grounded in reality that rumour is. But with the return of a Japanese engine manufacturer, I wonder if we’ll also see the return of Japanese drivers. Maybe a return to Sauber for Kobayashi? Does anyone know of any up and coming young Japanese drivers that might be ready for a drive in 2015?

    I wonder what other teams are going to utilize Honda power. I’ve heard rumours that Sauber might be decide to go with Honda for 2015

    1. Doubt it. Sauber is in a mutual partnership with Ferrari, and they’ve had some success. I don’t see why they’d break it. I’d bet for Williams maybe, since Renault wants to supply less teams.

      1. @carlitox that’s what I reckon also: Toro Rosso want to use Renault engines however, so perhaps Ferrari will also be looking for more customers as they have expressed a wish to do so. So RBR-Renault, Ferrari, Lotus-Renault, Mercedes, McLaren-Honda, Force India-Mercedes, Toro Rosso-Renault, Sauber-Ferrari, Williams-Honda, Caterham-Honda and Marussia-Ferrari then?

        1. I read somewhere that Lotus could be interested in Honda engines (don’t know how reliable it was). As mentioned, Renault want to supply less teams. Caterham and Renault are now building sportscars so maybe there’s more commitment there, we can also expect Toro Rosso to use Renault, but Williams change engine suppliers like it’s nobody’s business so they could well be another Honda customer. Anyway, it’s great news for F1!

    2. The more I think about who else would move to Honda engines, the more it looks it is unlikely to happen at least in 2015. With just one year in between the introduction of the turbos and the availability of Honda engines, it would be difficult for the constructors to negotiate and obtain a good contract for just one year from Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault.

      Who could make the move to Honda? As Ferrari and Mercedes are manufacturers, it leaves the possibility (hypothetically) only for 8 other constructors (apart from Honda of course). Red Bull are quite happy with Renault and Force India have committed to long term relationship with Mercedes. Marussia seem to be heading in Ferrari’s direction. If any of the existing customers leave Renault then Toro Rosso is a likely customer. So the potential customers are any of Lotus, Sauber, Williams, Toro Rosso or Caterham. Now the question is who of this lot is going to switch to Honda? But the bigger question is when – 2015 or later?

      1. *(apart from Honda McLaren of course)* #facepalm

      2. Toro Rosso are more interested in a deal with Renault because of the possibility of sharing parts with their parent team – that is why they are keen to move away from Ferrari.
        At the moment, they have to manufacture a number of components in house because of the need for a separate transmission etc., but using the same engine would allow them to also use the transmission system and ancillary components from Red Bull, making it cheaper for them to compete (and also likely to boost their competitiveness when the back end of their car would effectively be the same as the latest Red Bull).

    3. Honda have never insisted on a team taking on a Japanese driver as a condition if an engine deal (the way Toyota placed Kazuki Nakajima at Williams), so I doubt Kobayashi could expect to get a seat with a Honda-powered team simply because he is Japanese.

  2. I’m very happy to see the return of Honda, they’re one of the best engine manufacturers in the world and HRC are one of the biggest names in motorsport. Even though I’m a Ferrari fan I hope their return will keep McLaren fighting for championships for many years to come; F1 needs (and most fans want) several teams that are able to fight for race wins and championships and with Mercedes putting a lot of their efforts into their own team I think this is something McLaren needed to prevent a Williams style decline into the midfield.

    1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      17th May 2013, 2:42

      @beneboy +1. As it was said in the forum, Williams decline is hard to overturn. Needless to say, as well, how many “big teams” have faded away throughout F1’s history: Lancia, Maserati, Brabham, even Jaguar (not good in F1 historically, but a big brand). Now the balance of powers can change faster than in the past. During Schum era we had the “historic teams” always fighting for the championship: McLaren, Williams and Ferrari. Now you can add to that mix Red Bull, Lotus, and probably Mercedes will join the following years. So if McLaren does this deal to keep thee boat floating (and winning), of course it is a good move.

  3. As someone who didn’t follow F1 until about 2000, it is a bit disheartening to see the McLaren-Mercedes partnership end. It is disappointing it didn’t yield more success, as many races were won but very few championships were produced.

    Honda will be fine, all the OEM powertrains on the grid have proven themselves as race winners. The real key is that McLaren retains its ability to attract top drivers and technical talent. Even if they could come up with a good car, are the current drivers good enough to push to the front? I am a fan of Jenson, but I’d hate to watch him ride Honda into the ground twice in his career (I think I am worried because he did such a great job the first time). Perez might have been too much of a knee jerk reaction to Hamilton’s exit — this has been talked to death on this site but I think I am in the camp of he just doesn’t have “IT”.

    You look at the horizon of other driver possibilities – they don’t have a single desirable veteran driver they could attract because they already had their turn at McLaren and famously left (Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen). Vettel is the only outsider of that group and I shudder at the thought. :)

    All this rambling and all I really want to say is that I wish they would sack Whitmarsh. I really feel he removes from the team more than he adds to it.

  4. Its good that Honda is coming back to F1. And its a bit of a boost for McLaren as well, being a customer team must have gone down badly at Woking!

    As for Mallya – it really shows how money rules all too often.

    1. And its a bit of a boost for McLaren as well, being a customer team must have gone down badly at Woking!

      What do you mean “must have”? Of course it went down badly – they lost Lewis Hamilton to a works team. I still reckon Ross Brawn was onto something when he said that manufacturer teams would be the place the be from 2014.

    2. As Wu-Tang puts it: “C.R.E.A.M – Cash Rules Everything Around Me”

  5. I must say that the most I had thought about Gascoyne going ocean sailing was about mimicking what that other, more famous, and successful, F1 designer was planning to do after he first quit McLaren.

    But after, it actually does make a load of sense. I gather there are not that many sports (or businesses – apart from Aerospace and military equipment) where something failing in the middle of the race can be as expensive and have as dear consequences as ocean racing.

    Sure enough it would completely change the face of the sport when they would be able to stop counting how many arrive and look at when they arrive for the rankings. Both in success for those who get it right, and in lifes and money saved

    1. Oh, and it could help a race like Valencia if they would have these great sailing yachts moor there during the race too! And Abu dhabi, Singapore, even Korea (hm, would anyone go out there, even if they actually built that marina) would like it too if they manage a bit of a tie in.

  6. I relay hope that McLaren will extend partnership with Jason Button in this new upcoming era. He desires another GO for glory.

    Honda please,… better put your driver (probably Kamui Kobayashi) in that other team you will be supplying.

  7. Great to see Honda come back. The McLaren Honda partnership was devastatingly successful in the 80’s where engine development & performance had great scope for engine suppliers to distinguish themselves. In the contemporary Formula however, swapping from Cosworth to a Toyota to a Renault unit does not seem to yield what it once did in the 80’s (just ask Williams) or Renault’s lacking of recognition in the Red Bull championships of late. Questions: will engines be a talking point once again with next years turbos? will horsepower be a new differentiator? with a marked introduction to green technology next year, me thinks it was just the tonic (or carrot) that was needed for a Honda return

  8. Reading that article, Neale’s comment at the end is quite interesting:

    “Jenson will drive here for as long as he wants to drive here”

    Quite a statement that isn’t it?

    1. Maybe not if we compare it to Red Bull saying about Webber that its his seat as long as he wants to contionue @john-h!

    2. I don’t find that odd at all. Button has always struck me as a guy who in the end gets the job done, knows what he wants and is easy to work with. Obviously one of the most experienced drivers on the grid. There isn’t many people there that could replace him and the ones that could are probably way more expensive.

      I don’t see why McLaren wouldn’t want to keep him.

  9. Talking about Honda coming back, this is a nice parallel between the founder of Honda and that icon of motor racing Enzo Ferrari – both men with a hear for racing, a nice read for a coffee brake/lunch brake

  10. Marc Priestly makes a good point – I know i wouldn’t be amazed going from a Merc to a Civic!

    1. @bendana
      Maybe they’ll get a Honda GT-R or something similar from Honda’s sports range, I certainly wouldn’t mind swapping a Merc for a Skyline ;-)
      Although given the choice I’d probably be asking for a new Fireblade or a Super Blackbird…

      1. @beneboy, Skylines are for Infiniti-RBR.

        1. @hohum & @scuderia29
          You are both correct, was thinking of the NSX concept they had at Geneva – god knows how I confused that with a Skyline…
          It’s either early on-set dementia or the fact that yesterday was my day off and I started smoking a little earlier than normal :-)

      2. Ben (@scuderia29)
        18th May 2013, 16:41

        @beneboy GT-R (skyline) are Nissans…not hondas :P

    2. There’s the upcoming second-generation NSX, which wouldn’t be a bad alternative to a Merc.

  11. Many happy returns Ponzonha.

  12. Could someone explain me what it means that McLaren will not be a customer team to honda? Will they be like the unofficial honda works team? I don’t get it 100%

    1. @force-maikel Consider the following. Ferrari and Mercedes are supplying engines to other constructors while competing as a constructor themselves. Here Sauber, Toro Rosso, McLaren and Force India are their customer teams, while Ferrari and Mercedes are factory teams. Whereas Renault though are supplying their engines to RBR, Lotus, Williams and Caterham, their preferred choice for development (?) is RBR and hence is works team while the remaining three remain (?) as customer teams. Hope I have put this forth properly. lol

      1. So since Honda are not competing themselves as a team in F1, McLaren (I suppose) would be their preferred (or primary) customer thereby being the Works team.

    2. So yes, Honda to McLaren will be like Renault to RBR but of course they will still likely supply other teams as Renault do.

  13. Love Neale suggesting that Merc are holding Mclaren back. Doesn’t seem to be slowing down Force India much.

  14. It’d be nice to see Marussia if they are still here in 2015 running Honda engines.

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