McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has hailed Honda's return to the F1 fold as an exciting step for the Woking squad after it was announced that the pair would be reunited from 2015.
McLaren has been linked to a possible Honda partnership since February and, despite suggestions to the contrary, a deal has now been confirmed at a press conference in Japan, where Whitmarsh took a turn at the dais to explain the switch from Mercedes, which has carried the squad to four world titles since 1995.
Prior to that era, however, McLaren and Honda forged a reputation for success, particularly with Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna at the wheel, winning no fewer than eight world championships between 1988-92, and taking 44 race wins, 53 pole positions and 30 fastest laps in just 80 grands prix.
“It's fantastic news for everyone who loves F1 to be able to welcome Honda back,” Whitmarsh commented, “Together, we're about to embark on a new and extremely exciting chapter in McLaren's history.
“Like McLaren, Honda is a company with motor racing woven into the fabric of its heritage. We're proud and thrilled to be joining forces once more to take on the world in F1. Whilst both companies are fully aware that we're embarking on a very demanding journey together, we're hugely committed to the success of the partnership, and we'll spend the next 18 months working together to ensure that we're fully established and competitive ahead of our first grand prix together in 2015.”
In 1988, the partnership created arguably the single most successful F1 car of all time, as Prost and Senna drove the MP4/4 to victory in 15 of the season's 16 grands prix, and was only denied at the other by a clash with a backmarker that took Senna out of the lead at Monza.
It is against that backdrop that McLaren and Honda have now committed to renewing their partnership from the start of the 2015 campaign.
“The names of McLaren and Honda are synonymous with success in F1 and, for everyone who works for both companies, the weight of our past achievements together lies heavily on our shoulders,” Whitmarsh acknowledged, “But it's a mark of the ambition and resolve we both share that we want once again to take McLaren-Honda to the very pinnacle of F1 success. Together we have a great legacy – and we're utterly committed to maintaining it.”
In the years since the last McLaren-Honda union, the Woking company has grown to become an internationally-recognised highly-innovative group of high-technology companies, with expertise ranging from high-performance simulation via electronic systems to materials science, and Whitmarsh believes that that breadth of intelligence makes McLaren a particularly attractive partner for Honda as it gets to grips with the new regulations stipulating turbo-charged 1.6-litre V6 engines from next season.