McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh says that he has high hopes for next year's last season with Mercedes power and for the arrival of Honda as the team's new technical partner in 2015.

Whitmarsh insisted that the team hadn't given up all car development for 2013, although obviously they were being careful about which areas they focussed on to make sure it feeds into the work for next year when the rules and regulations are significantly overhauled.

"We've been working on the 2014 car for some time," he said. "I think the likelihood is that all of the cars will have to be quite a lot different. We're focussing now on areas of development and understanding which make this year's car quicker but actually are really relevant to next year.

"There are still front wings, for instance, and other areas of aerodynamic development that are just as relevant for next year," he explained. "There are some other areas - exhaust blowing, and some of the other areas - where we're plainly going to be less active.

"The bitter reality of not fighting for the championship in 2013 could even prove to be a help to the team's future planning," he mused.

"If we were in a championship fight then we might try and find the tenths or hundredths but I think we need to try and make sure we apply the resource and the learning that's going to be relevant for next year," he said. "If you look at the last ten or so years each year we've been fighting for race wins and then fighting for championship, so really we've been fighting to the end of the year. [This year] we've got the luxury of not quite the same level of pressures."

Next year will see the team's final season with their existing engine suppliers after a two-decade relationship. Whitmarsh said that he was sorry to see the end of an era, but didn't expect the transition to cause any problems for their 2014 title campaign.

"Our 20th year with Daimler and Mercedes-Benz, I absolutely trust them that we'll have a great year," he said. "I think they'll do a good job on the powertrain."

The following year will see McLaren reunited once again with Honda - and Whitmarsh said he can't wait.

"Obviously there's a massive excitement in the company [about Honda returning.] They've got a racing culture, a racing spirit - it's tremendously exciting and very motivational in the team," he said. "We can now look ahead really the next ten years knowing we've got fantastic budget, we've fantastic resources, we've got a fantastic partner to go out there and continue winning and being successful in F1. .

"It's a challenge, it always is, but I think it's an exciting one."

Whitmarsh added that as well as being McLaren's technical partner, the two companies would also be pursuing a commercial partnership that will ensure the team's finances are secure for several years to come - no mean feat in these austere economic times.

"We have a good range of sponsors going forward and of course Honda is a great technical and commercial partner, so we've got a very secure budget."


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