New Honda F1 engine to be trialled this fall

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After confirming this week that its Formula One base will be located in Milton Keynes, Honda has now revealed to Autosport that it will fire up an engine for the first time this fall.

Honda last raced in Formula One in 2008 before withdrawing at the end of that season. Five years later though, the Japanese manufacturer has confirmed that it will return to the sport supplying power units to McLaren from 2015 onwards.

Honda’s motorsport chief Yasuhisa Arai told Autosport: “We are scheduled to have a fire-up around autumn.

“Of course, in addition to the engine unit, we are going to have components like the ERS and the battery, so in order for us to test it as a system it is probably going to take another year or so.”

Arai explained how it would take time to perfect the new specification engine for 2015, with the regulations debuting next season as turbocharged V6 engines replace V8s.

“We made the announcement in the middle of May that Honda has decided to come back to F1 and we have just started the design work. We are now making the decisions for some of the details, so we have just started to embark on this.

“It is going to involve lots of technical elements, so it’s not just talking about the engine. We have to make sure that the engine works with the engine management. To be a good power unit, we have to make sure that all parts work together.”

Honda’s comeback is hotly anticipated and McLaren will be hoping to return to the glory days of their partnership in the late 1980s as Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna dominated the F1 world. However, by delaying entry until 2015, the deal does leave McLaren in a tight position with Mercedes until their current agreement expires at the end of next season.

McLaren unveils 2018 F1 car, the MCL33

Photo: Getty Images
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McLaren F1 Team became the latest to launch their 2018 challenger on Friday, taking the covers off their new MCL33 chassis early on Friday morning.

McLaren endured a difficult 2017 season of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, with their partnership with Honda eventually dissolving after a troublesome power unit saw them plagued by unreliability and low power.

A switch to Renault power units is expected to see them get an uptick in form, and the MCL33 chassis itself is actually an evolution on last year’s MCL32. Still, the team highlighted areas to improve upon, and aims for a return to prominence in 2018.

“The McLaren team was created by a brave pioneer, and has had bravery at its core ever since. Whether it’s been with brave drivers, brave leaders or brave fortune, this team has always fought back. And we definitely view 2018 as the year when McLaren will move closer to the front, fighting teams and drivers as we improve our fortunes,” said Zak Brown, executive director of McLaren Technology Group.

Brown also highlighted the car’s new papaya orange livery, a throwback to some of the most popular color schemes that have adorned McLaren entrants in a variety of disciplines. Brown indicated that this came about from requests of fans who wanted to see such a livery return to the McLaren marque.

“Our return to a papaya orange livery for this year wasn’t simply an emotional decision; it demonstrates that we are listening to our fans, building deeper engagement with them and the Formula 1 community as a whole. We want McLaren to earn respect on and off the track, and this felt like a good starting point. We want to show everyone what makes this team special, whether that’s our fans or our partners – there’s room for more on our journey.”

The team’s racing director Eric Boullier expressed optimism about the team’s potential for 2018, but also acknowledged the season will be sure to see its fair share of challenges.

“I think the whole team feels proud of this car,” he asserted. “The design, engineering and aerodynamic departments have done an incredible job delivering a new car with a new power unit in an extremely short timeframe. We never took the easy route or looked to shortcut a process or a solution; and the result is a car that is neat and well-resolved.

“That said, we are under no illusions that it will be difficult to splinter the hegemony at the front; and that the midfield will be full of well-funded, experienced outfits with plenty to prove. We are humble about the challenge ahead, but feel we’ve prepared well, have a solid package that we can build upon and exploit as the season progresses, and have two excellent drivers who will make the difference in races.”

The MCL33 took to the track on Friday for filming at a test track in Spain, and will be run in anger for the first time when testing begins next week at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

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