The McLaren team could swap Mercedes power for new Honda engines should the Japanese marque return to F1 in 2015 as is rumoured.

Having not been seen in the top flight since withdrawing on the eve of the 2009 season, Honda is reported to be working on an engine to meet the new-for-2014 regulations - which stipulate 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 units in stead of the current 2.6-litre aspirated V8s - and could return as a rival to Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault, which are expected to propel the field next year.

According to BBC Sport, the switch to 'greener' technology, and particularly the introduction of energy recovery systems, holds an appeal for Honda, which previously partnered McLaren during its glory days with Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna sweeping all before them.

Although McLaren refused to confirm or deny the rumours, and Mercedes insisted that it was hoping to secure a 'long-term engine supplier relationship' with the Woking team, the current contract between the two parties runs to the end of the 2013 season, with options on McLaren's side to renew for the following two. According to the report, which also points out that Honda has yet to officially confirm a return to the top flight, McLaren is only expected to take up the first year option, allowing it to change camps for 2015.

As well as propelling McLaren to four straight titles between 1988-92, Honda also carried Nelson Piquet and Williams to the 1987 crown, and only narrowly missed on the 1986 championship after both Piquet and Nigel Mansell were pipped by Prost's then TAG-powered McLaren. After a brief hiatus, following the abortion of a works team project, Honda returned in 2000 as engine supplier to BAR, eventually acquiring the team in 2006. Three disappointing years as a works entry, however, led to the company's exit, with Ross Brawn and Mercedes taking up the spot on the entry list.