One of the most successful partnerships ever seen in Formula One may be recreated as the BBC claims McLaren are pursuing an engine deal with Honda.
Rumors about a potential return to F1 by Honda have grown since the new engine formula for 2014 was announced. Honda is believed to be interested in the proposals for V6 engines which make greater use of energy recovery.
Honda’s last participation in Formula One lasted from 2002 to 2008. For the last three years it ran its own team, winning the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix with Jenson Button before suffering two disastrous seasons.
McLaren previously used Honda engines between 1988 and 1992, winning four constructors’ championships and four drivers’ championships (three for Ayrton Senna, one for Alain Prost). In 80 races they scored 44 Grand Prix victories and set 53 pole positions.
The McLaren-Mercedes partnership has lasted since 1995. But having enjoyed 14 years as the sole users of their power units, Mercedes extended their supply to Force India and Brawn in 2009. The latter became the Mercedes factory team the following year.
McLaren is now a Mercedes engine customer and would undoubtedly prefer to have the kind of relationship it once enjoyed with Mercedes with a different manufacturer. Aligning with Honda, a company the team knows well, would allow it to play a greater role in developing the engine in conjunction with its chassis.
For now McLaren aren’t commenting on the rumors, but the potential return of the McLaren-Honda combination will fire the imaginations of anyone who remembers watching their devastating red and white machines in action.