The end of the 2014 season will mark the twentieth and final season for the McLaren and Mercedes partnership. After two decades of Formula One success, the two companies will part ways and wish each other the best as they proceed to beat each other’s brains out on track in 2015. Mercedes will do so with their own Formula 1 team and McLaren will approach the season with a new engine supply relationship from Japan.

While Honda are no stranger to Formula 1, having made their debut at the 1964 German Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring, the Japanese auto maker is keen to dip their toe back in the piranha infested waters of F1 as an engine supplier. Most recently Honda had their own F1 team but left the sport in 2008 after handing the assets over to Ross Brawn who would later sell his team to Mercedes… yes, the Mercedes team was once the Honda team and now the Honda team will be encamped within the McLaren HQ in Woking.

The new V6 turbo engine format plays well with Honda’s road car division and the technology can be proven and perfected on the punishing grounds of Formula One. It is a gambit that FIA president Jean Todt had hoped would lure manufacturers back to the sport after his predecessor did very little to keep them back in 2008.

The McLaren/Honda relationship is nothing new to Formula 1 either. The two have worked together with amazing results in the past and when mentioned in the same sentence, many veteran F1 fans will get weak-knee’d at the thought of Ayrton Senna in a Honda powered McLaren. They were dominate back then and technical boss Jonathan Neale told Sky Sports F1 they will be again:

“There is no doubt that they will be massively competitive. Turbocharged engines in 1.6-litre category are something that is familiar to them.

“Obviously the new engine for 2014 in Formula 1 is a step and a big push, we don’t underestimate for a minute the work that we have to do together to be ready for 2015 – that absolutely goes without saying – but we’re very confident that together we can do that.”

I’ve advocated the need for a new engine supply arrangement for McLaren for some time but I’m not a Delphic Oracle by any means. McLaren knew they needed a new arrangement as Mercedes began poaching their technical and driver ranks securing the services of technical director Paddy Lowe and the driving talents of Lewis Hamilton. While I’ve often felt McLaren should roll their own, it appears they are keen to stick with a supply agreement instead of casting their own blocks and pistons for the time being.

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • nofahz

    There must be some carry over from the work HPD has done with the IndyCar V6 turbos to make this worthwhile no? The displacement is different but should be of some value as there is design and reliability data.

    • I am thinking that honda, having recently owned their own team in F1 and worked in this similar format, as you mentioned, will be able to hit the ground running. They may be a litte behind the others but I suspect McLaren will do very well with the new shove.

  • first350

    seems odd that they’ll McLaren with have the new Merc engine in 2014 then switch to Honda for 2015…guess Honda’s commitment to join is too late to start development in time for 2014.

    • hobo

      I am pretty sure I have read that Merc is not excited about this for fear of technology transfer. If they aren’t, I think they should be.

  • JakobusVdL

    It’s good to hear that the new engine configuration has drawn at least one manufacturer back to F1. I hope the engine regs allow enough scope for Honda’s investment in F1 to benefit their road cars.

  • offcamberM3

    I’m very pleased Honda is coming back to F1. Please correct me if I’m mistaken, but I believe Honda invented variable valve timing with its F1 engine. Then it came to the NSX, then farther down the line. My ’97 Integra GSR with VTEC and 8k redline (and 200k on the odometer) continues to please after all these years. Variable valve timing is ubiquitous now. On a side note , as a Honda fan, it nearly broke my heart when Honda struggled and struggled, sold the team for 1$, them the very next year (double diffuser) Brawn won the championship. If people with no business getting a mortgage had gotten them for one more year Honda may have never left F1. I’m wishing them the best going forward, love those Honda engines. I wish F1 would lift the limit on engine revs.

    • You may be right on that. I wasn’t aware they had created that tech. Anyone have any more info on Honda’s variable valve timing creation? That’s an interesting point.

      Next question is, who is doing turbo right? I know it’s a limited field of development but is honda, Merc, Renault or Ferrari doing turbo at a level that could be impactful in F1?

      • charlie w

        Variable valve timing dates to early internal combustion engines. The VTEC system is Honda’s creation but I thought it was developed for their motorcycles and later adapted to their cars.

        Doing turbos right? My 1st answer would be Porsche but we know where they stand about F1. My 2nd guess would be Subaru, like Porsche, has turbos available on its full product range.

        • offcamberM3

          Thanks, charlie w. I looked into it, you are correct. I found nothing about VTEC in Honda’s F1 engines. It did start in their motorcycle engines in the early ’80s.
          Bad combo of poor memory, bad “facts”, excitement and beer on my part.

    • SteveH

      Unfortunately, variable valve timing is not allowed in F1. In fact, lots of other good stuff is banned.

  • Stan

    Ok this sound super promising, the gangs back together. Let’s see returning cast members playing themselves will be McLaren and Honda. Playing the parts of Prost and Senna with be…oh nevermind

  • charlie w

    I wonder if anyone at McLaren has any memory of those dark years when they had Peugoet power.