Honda will return to Formula 1 racing in two years, supplying engines for racing cars built by McLaren. The new team will be called McLaren Honda and will race starting in the 2015 FIA Formula 1 world championship.
Honda's decision to return to the world of Formula 1 comes as regulations require all F1 cars to switch to turbocharged 1.6-liter V-6 engines by next year. The new engine is reportedly already under development in Tochigi, Japan. Currently, F1 rules specify 2.4-liter V-8 engines. Honda says it decided to get back into F1 engine development -- the company will also build the Kinetic Energy Recovery System hybrid unit -- because there are opportunities for lessons learned in building the turbo V-6 engines to inform engineering of road cars. McLaren, meanwhile, will develop the car chassis and manage the racing team.
"Ever since its establishment, Honda has been a company which grows by taking on challenges in racing," Honda Motor Co. CEO Takanobu Ito said in a statement. "Honda has a long history of advancing our technologies and nurturing our people by participating in the world’s most prestigious automobile racing series."
Honda has previously competed in Formula 1 racing both as a fully independent team and as an engine supplier. It participated as a Honda team from 1964 through 1968, supplied engines to other racing teams from 1983 through 1992, supplied engines and jointly developed some chassis from 2000 to 2005, and participated as a Honda team from 2006 through 2008.
McLaren and Honda previously teamed up in Formula 1 from 1988 through 1992, winning 44 races during that time and scoring eight world championships. In 1988, the McLaren-Honda MP4/4 won 15 of the season's 16 races. (Several of the McLaren-Honda cars from that era are pictured below.)
Sources: Honda, McLaren