Honda confirms F1 return with McLaren in 2015

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Honda confirmed its return to Formula One from 2015 with McLaren, renewing the partnership that was one of F1’s most successful in its past.

The 1.6L turbocharged engine formula that premieres next year has piqued Honda’s interest for its latest return to the sport. The manufacturer pulled out at the end of 2008.

“Ever since its establishment, Honda has been a company which grows by taking on challenges in racing,” said Takanobu Ito, President and CEO of Honda Motor Company.

“Honda has a long history of advancing our technologies and nurturing our people by participating in the world’s most prestigious automobile racing series.

“The new F1 regulations with their significant environmental focus will inspire even greater development of our own advanced technologies and this is central to our participation in F1.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren’s team principal and Group CEO, added his thoughts on the return.

“It’s fantastic news for everyone who loves Formula One to be able to welcome Honda back,” he said. “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.”

McLaren is going through the midst of major change as an organization; title sponsor Vodafone leaves at the end of this year and now Mercedes-Benz, its engine partner since 1995 (although a customer since 2009), will end its relationship after a 20-year period at the end of 2014. Honda had been rumored for a return back in March.

This is not an exclusive partnership, and Honda will be able and willing to assist other teams as well, according to Autosport.

Ferrari, Mercedes launch 2018 F1 cars

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The title combatants from the 2017 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season both launched their 2018 challengers earlier on Thursday, with Scuderia Ferrari revealing the SF71H and Mercedes AMG Petronas revealing the W09.

For Ferrari, the SF71H represents an evolution of last year’s SF70H, which helped produce Ferrari’s best season in several years.

They presented a strong challenge to Mercedes for the championship, even leading the way at various points, with Sebastian Vettel recording five wins along the way. But, mechanical failures and crashes hampered their efforts late in the season, and they settled for second in the driver’s championship (with Vettel) and the constructor’s championship.

Entering 2018, the team is emphasizing the importance of building momentum with every race to ultimately secure their first constructor’s crown since 2008 and their first driver’s crown since 2007.

“There are no challenges actually. There are no challenges in the plural. There is just one challenge, which is the final challenge,” asserted team principal Maurizio Arrivabene. So that’s work that you build and you don’t build that work in one or two races. We’ve seen over the last few years, in the last championships, that you work race by race, and you always try to do the best you can.”

Technical director Mattia Binotto detailed some of the updates on the 2018 car, such as an new power unit and new suspension designs in anticipation of new tire constructions.

“We worked a lot on the power unit, we worked on its reliability and performance. We worked on the packaging, on suspensions in the rear axle because there will be new tires the following season, so we also tried to design the car to accommodate the new tires,” he explained.

Binotto added, “In regards to aerodynamics, we maintained our concept of having the inlets on the radiators, and everybody’s copying that, but we tried to make an additional step forward and what we showed today is not the same element of last year, but it is something more developed.”

Mercedes, meanwhile, will look to take it’s fifth consecutive driver’s and constructor’s championships with the W09. The team even took the car to the track for its launch, conducting a filming day at Silverstone Circuit.

“It is always a very exciting time because what has been designed is coming together and coming alive,”  team principal Toto Wolff said during the launch.

Despite facing challenges with last year’s car, the W08, the team elected to follow a similar design concept with the aerodynamics to improve on the car’s strengths while simultaneously addressing its weak points.

“We like some of the character traits from our diva,” Wolf quipped. “The W08 was the fastest car on the grid, scoring the highest number of pole positions and winning the most races last year. So we were careful not to lose the car’s many strengths just to overcome the difficulties.”

Both Ferrari and Mercedes are expected to slug it out again for the 2018 driver’s and constructor’s championships.

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