Whitmarsh: Honda deal to yield new era for McLaren

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McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh is excited about the impending revival of the team’s partnership with Honda, believing that it will be the start of a new era for the team.

It was announced earlier this year that Honda would be returning to Formula One in 2015 as an engine supplier for the British team, reviving the McLaren-Honda partnership that dominated the sport in the late 1980s. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost swept the board for McLaren, claiming every pole position and fifteen out of sixteen race wins in 1988. Although the teammates’ dispute boiled over, McLaren and Honda continued to work together until the end of 1992.

For Whitmarsh, the renewed partnership will give McLaren a great chance of returning to winning ways after a difficult spell, winning just one drivers’ title since the turn of the century.

“There is obviously a massive excitement in the company. I was around when we last raced with Honda and they have a racing culture and a racing spirit,” Whitmarsh explained to ESPN F1.

“That’s exciting and very motivational within the team and we can now look ahead to the next ten years knowing we have got a fantastic budget, resources and a partner to continue winning and being successful in Formula One. It’s a challenge, it always is, but I think it’s an exciting one.”

Honda withdrew from Formula One at the end of 2008 due to spiralling costs, but the return of the Japanese manufacturer will excite many fans of the sport with memories of the Marlboro-liveried McLaren MP4/4 dominating the 1988 season.

The deal will however bring to an end McLaren’s long-standing partnership with Mercedes, who have supplied the British team with engines since 1995.