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Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Mar 2013   |  12:20 pm GMT  |  310 comments

There has been a lot of speculation in recent days about Honda and McLaren reviving the famous partnership, which brought domination of F1 in the later 1980s and early 1990s.

It began towards the end of last season, but has grown in intensity recently. This is probably due to the fact that attention is now focussing on the major engine changes in 2014 and McLaren has every reason to want to move away from Mercedes, despite having an option to use their new generation hybrid engines in 2014 and 2015.

In the last few years Mercedes has withdrawn as a shareholder and major investor in the McLaren team, poached Lewis Hamilton and has been busy doing the same with technical director Paddy Lowe. That’s not one body blow, it’s a pummelling.

To say that there is no love lost between the two would be putting it mildly.

On top of that they will be aware that the 2014 Mercedes engine will be precisely what Mercedes wants it to be from their own chassis design point of view. The customers, like McLaren, will have to make do with what they are given.

For a team with McLaren’s self-esteem, the loss of Hamilton and this customer status is too much; they have to act to restore their pride.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh did little to dampen the Honda speculation when he told SKY, “There’s a lot of speculation and I’ve heard Porsche, Hyundai, Honda, all those sorts of names. I hope for Formula One that these manufacturers come back – we need them in the sport. In the longer term, who knows what’s going to happen.”

Yesterday at the Geneva Motor Show there was a lot of discussion about this subject. Speaking there to Rolf Ganter, the senior automotive analyst from UBS, he sees the market conditions for Honda to return to F1 as highly favourable,

“Honda is not so well known in Europe; they are focussed on Asia and the US. But F1 engagement could bring them back to the European table,” he said.

“And don’t forget what is happening now with the Japanese producers. Look at the currency; how much the Japanese yen weakened – around 20% versus the dollar and the euro. And that puts these companies on a more competitive situation. This means that they can make more profit on their cars or put in more features or even sell the car cheaper.

“Honda was always famous for having high revving engines and for them it’s a good place to be back in Formula 1. As a stock I like it and as a company I like it and I think it would make sense.”

Another compelling reason to return is that the 1.6 litre hybrid turbo engine is core business for Honda, where 2.4 litre V8s are not. Few manufacturers are making production V8 engines any more.

However, Honda is well aware that Formula 1 is a cruel business: if you are winning and doing well, it can boost your brand image globally, as it did for Honda in the Senna and Prost era with McLaren.

But if you are doing badly, as Honda did from 2006 to 2008, it can actually damage your brand image. You are then spending millions to damage your brand, as Jaguar did for example, and that makes no sense at all. Honda was not cut out for team ownership, but partnership with a top team like McLaren is different.

Arguably since the Honda team withdrew from F1 it’s model range has lost some of its glamour and sportiness and this would be restored by fighting at the front of F1 again.

History suggests it would be an engagement with a finite time period, Honda doesn’t tend to stick around for more than seven or eight years, but F1′s global footprint these days matches their key markets and supplying engines is much cheaper than running a team.

From a business perspective it makes sense. And as business is usually the driver for all decisions taken around F1, there is likely to be more than a grain of truth in it.

One final note – if a McLaren Honda partnership were lined up, sources say it would not happen before 2015 for logistical reasons. There would also be variations and changes from the Technical Working Group during the first year and Honda would benefit from observing that.

This would leave Mercedes supplying its engine to McLaren in 2014, knowing that Honda engineers would be crawling all over it from later this year onwards.

They would be very uncomfortable about that.

* To hear more from my discussions with Rolf Ganter about manufacturers and F1, check out the first JA on F1 Podcast of 2013, which will be live here on the site by Monday.

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310 Comments
  1. Sean says:

    It would have to be quite far along already if it was to enter next season. I can’t see developing for Mercedes packaging 2014 and then Honda 2015 to be the sort of direction that McLaren would want to follow.

    1. Sebee says:

      How about McLaren keep Mercedes for 2014, reverse engineer that beast and have Honda build them a copy.

      Just a little payback for Lewis and Lowe, etc. etc. :-)

      1. Dave C says:

        A very good idea indeed, but I’m sure Honda could develop a better engine than Mercedes, their turbo and hybrid powertrains are 2nd to none and even though Honda was weak with the current 2.4 V8 formula they were vwry handy with the V10′s so expect rhem to be at the front with Mclaren and maybe a couple of customers like Marrusia and Sauber or FI.

      2. Andrew C says:

        Honda’s turbo and hybrid power trains are 2nd to none?! Are you serious?! Their US 2.4 turbo was dropped since it was equal or heavier on fuel than the 3.5 V6 and their hybrids are a joke. The Insight is rubbish and not considered a TRUE rival to a Prius. What country are you referring to where Honda sells such awesome turbo and hybrid power trains? Even if you did manage to concoct some fantastic history in some obscure like maybe Madagascar, the road car technology wouldn’t be flowing into F1. It works the other way around.

      3. Sebee says:

        Andrew

        I have to say Honda has been quite flat on passion lately. Civic SiR is a distant memory. Funny that Kia and Hyundai are bringing the product fight to them.

        Maybe that is why they want F1. Acura re-launch. Since Lexus and now Infinity have crushed them in the luxury segment.

      4. stu says:

        Remember back in 80′s they were using 1.6L V6 turbo. At the time honda started with RA163E with mere 600 bhp. Four years later, RA167E producing anywhere from 850-1000 bhp. I know the technical specification will be different and they are behind on ERS. 2015 maybe the earliest they can produce the engine but Mclaren will be struggling for few more years before it’ll become competitive. I believe with honda just sticking with the engine and partnering with Mclaren they will eventually succeed again.

      5. JCA says:

        A little thing called intellectual property rights. I may be wrong, but I think Mercedes own the engines, and they are sealed by the FIA, so McLaren are not allowed to open them. They can only use telemetry and the likes to analyze them.

      6. Cona says:

        Unless one of them is conveniently misplaced or lost, or even better, sorry FIA whilst handling one of our engines, the seal was accidentally broken,a fine is paid and the technology’s stolen..result!!!

    2. Cypher09 says:

      I think Brawn proved that Merc and Honda powertrains interchange rather nicely.

      1. Anon says:

        Not neccessarily, Brawn GP had a huge head start on the field so it would be hard to tell if it cost them a few tenths or so.

      2. grat says:

        I believe the comments at the time were that the Mercedes engine “completely transformed” the Brawn GP car, and in a positive way.

      3. Kenny Carwash says:

        That’s not what I heard at the time. The Brawn car never ran with Honda’s 2009 engine, so I’m not sure how it could’ve been transformed by it.

        The version I got, from in and around the team, was that they were very excited about their 2009 design from the outset. With Honda having financed the wind tunnel development of three different concepts, they picked the one that showed the best aero performance and maximised the benefit of the double diffuser. This car was sculpted around the 2009 Honda powerplant and gearbox, which was remarkably tightly packaged. The Mercedes unit was significantly bulkier and basically the last foot of the car had to be crudely redesigned to accommodate it.

        It’s likely that the Mercedes unit was up on power compared to the Honda unit, but it also meant that the double-diffuser concept could not be exploited to the extent that the original design allowed. My gut feeling is that this resulted in the BGP001 losing some of its speed in medium and high-speed corners, but gaining a bit more punch on power circuits.

        I have to wonder whether the Brawn car would’ve had the same problem with tyre temperatures had they retained the Honda engine that year. They may have dominated 2009 to an even greater extent, which is a scary thought!

      4. Kay says:

        Brawn actually had to cut off bits of the car in order to make the Merc engine fit into the Brawn car.

      5. markdartj says:

        It was a “cut and chop job that most teams would walk away from” as quoted by Brawn engineers in F-1 Racing magazine. If you look closely at the BGP01, you can see a line running around the middle of the care, just behind the roll hoop. I have the die cast model, and it’s even apparent on it. One of the reasons Brawn faded after it’s initial success in 2009. It was only the with the double diffuser and clever bits on the front wing that Brawn gained a march on the rest of the field, but they were then caught up, weren’t they?

    3. gudien says:

      Couple points;

      McLaren may believe they have little or no choice but to change engine suppliers due to Merc’s insatiable hunger for Ron’s top men.

      Since McLaren are now an automotive manufacturer in their own right perhaps now is the time to make a move for Cosworth?

      With Perez and Button on hand for the foreseeable future there’s little to be lost by changing power plants.

      PS: I always find Whitmarsh humourous.

      1. Martin says:

        The problem with buying Cosworth is that first you the cash to buy the company and then more cash to develop the engine. Several hundred million worth. McLaren wouldn’t have that capital available right now. So bringing in a major car company willing to invest in F1 is a free form of sponsorship.

        Then there is the question of whether there are enough high quality staff left at Cosworth. Mercedes took a lot of them around six years ago.

        I have no idea what standard of race engine facilities Cosworth has relative to Honda. The last serious investment would have been in the Jaguar era at the latest as that is when the Ford money left. It could be even longer than that.

        It may be that there is little value in McLaren buying Cosworth. It may be just as effective to start its own program, and a better pay off for its road cars.

        A poor engine – which is what I’m taking from your Button and Perez comment – would hurt McLaren in constructor’s championship money and from there probably sponsorship. Which is particularly critical if you are paying for engines.

        I agree with you on Whitmarsh. Like Brawn he usually has something interesting to say. You just get McLaren-spin and humour thrown in.

      2. Marc says:

        I think it’s so good we have James on this site I watched this story develop over the last week and was waiting for James to reply. He didn’t knee jerk with an opinion nope he took his time and weighed up all permutations before replying and that is why we the fans love him and we read this website ! James keep the brill work up

    4. **Paul** says:

      I agree, I think the Honda engine probably already exists.

      It’s not a bad time to switch to Honda power from Mercedes though. I don’t think any of Mercedes road going performance cars use turbos (other than turbo diesels) and likewise with their recent racing cars?

      Honda have some history with turbo power, so that will potentially help give them an edge, but if I were looking for a turbo powered engine I think Renault would be the best bet, years and years of producing turbo powered road and racing cars. That sort of knowledge isn’t something you can just pick up in a few months, and that’s why (IMO) the Renault V8 isn’t as good as the Mercedes V8, neither was the Honda. The two best V8′s on the grid are made by firms that make performance orientated V8′s week in week out, Ferrari and Mercedes.

      We’ll see though.

      1. **Paul** says:

        Oops I forgot the new A45 AMG has a 1.6 Turbo engine, but even so, that’s a very very recent addition.

      2. JCA says:

        E63, cls63 use 5.5l turbo v8. I think the sl 65 use a turbo v12. A45 use a 2l turbo producing a astonishing 355 bhp. This is coming from a BMW fan. They also build the turbo v12 in the new pagani.

        There is no correlation between road car engines an racing engines at present, the former are engineered to last for hundreds of thousands of miles, the latter for +- five race weekends.

      3. **Paul** says:

        I did some more digging. Three, that’s the number of turbo’d engines that AMG put in Mercedes road cars (with some of those engines going in numerous models). Add on the Pagani engine and we’re up to a total of four.

        Whilst I’m aware they’ll never use a road engine in a racing car of any sort, I’m talking about the knowledge of Turbo technology gained by developing turbo powered cars for years and years. E.g. Porsche should know more about designing rear engined cars than others because they’ve done it for so long. The principals (in basic form) learnt on road car Turbo engines should apply to track. Mercedes don’t have that experience do they?

      4. Robert says:

        You definitely do not know Mercedes road cars. For a very long time, most, if not all Mercedes road cars, petrol and diesel, have charged motors. The petrol engines use to have compressors, but the last few years uses turbo’s. I am not very sure about the entry level cars, but for sure from the C class up uses charged motors for a number of years.

        I am not in the position to compare Mercedes and Honda, but believe that both are very good manufacturers.

      5. **Paul** says:

        Superchargers = different from Turbos. Thus, Kompressor engines are of little use with regards engine experience? Sure you need uprated internals with any F/I setup, but Turbo’s are so so different to Superchargers that I can’t see how that experience will really help them? It won’t help with regards the additional heat issues, the variable vane technology in turbos, lag issues, exhaust design issues etc etc.

      6. JCA says:

        Or they just recruit some talent from competitors, like any big business would. They are reported to be spending the most on the new engines, why would they not spend some money on outside talent to make sure they have the best engine?

        In any case, a lot of fans have been complaining for years that they basically bought the f1 engine operation, not developed their own. Motorsport engines are a very specialized field, you buy the knowledge you need.

    5. Kenny Carwash says:

      I have to agree with that. I just can’t imagine a situation where Mercedes would let McLaren be a customer for their brand new 2014 engine, only for them to swan off to another manufacturer in 2015, taking with them a year of valuable information and experience gleaned from running the thing. Don’t forget that with modern imaging techniques, you could build a pretty good picture of what’s inside an engine without actually opening it up.

      This for me is where the whole rumour runs aground. I can’t see Mercedes letting McLaren have 2014 engines without them also signing up for 2015 and probably 2016, too. I guess they could switch to Renault, but they would surely demand a similar commitment and I think we can dismiss the possibility of a McLaren Ferrari out of hand ;P.

      I can only see three possible outcomes: the Honda engine is ready in time for 2014, commit to Mercedes engines on a multi-year deal, or they suffer an interim year with Cosworth (if they’re even making a 2014 engine) before switching to Honda the following year.

      I very much doubt McLaren would be willing to suffer another year like 1993, so unless Honda are ready for 2014 then I think we’ll be seeing McLaren Merdeceses for a few more years yet.

      1. Brian says:

        Contractually, McLaren is in a quite fortunate situation, though, having call-options of Mercedes engines in 2014 and 2015. It is therefore up to them if they want the Merc engines for 2014 only or for 2014 and 2015. Mercedes wont be able to do much against it. They simply weren’t expecting all the discussed changes (new engine regulations, new manufacturers coming in, a worsening of the the relationship between Mercedes and McLaren) when they wrote that contract years ago. Mclaren could therefore very well have Honda reverse engineer the Mercedes engine (even just as a baseline) over one or two years.

  2. Thompson says:

    Difficult one to call.

    Back in those days you more or less had one dominate team/engine – when it came to reliability and power.

    The thing is these days you have several good engines on the field – the Mercs, Renaults ( who took over the best engine mantel from Honda)and even the Ferarri engine.

    Its a risky move imo (better the devil you know)- but if its all new spec chances are the Honda engine will be a year behind everybody elses.
    Considering 2014 will be 1st gen, the 2015 engines will be the one if the regs stay the same.

    1. Dave C says:

      It doesn’t matter if they’re a year behind or 10, remember BMW came in with their V10 and was the most powerful engine of the 2000′s, or you could say Honda had the most experience with V8′s bit just before the engine freeze their engine was shocking, so its inconclusive to say who will have the best engines, maybe Ferrari will be leaps and bounds beyond the rest who knows.

    2. Andy says:

      One of the main considerations for these engines will be the ERS system. Renault lagged behind Mercedes and Ferrari with Kers, maybe as a result of Red Bull’s design constraints.
      If Honda enter a year later I don’t think they will be disadvantaged. If anything, they may have the edge. One way or another, they will find out what the others are doing, and it’s not an arms race anymore. What you enter with is what you are pretty much stuck with.

  3. iceman says:

    It certainly makes sense, from all sorts of angles, but is there any substance in it?

      1. Sebee says:

        First image of NSX compares better to the Wiki Image of MP4-12C

        http://www.acura.com/future/NSX#/1

      2. Chris Normal says:

        Production isn’t supposed to start until at least 2015. Considering that there hasn’t been too much progress since it’s announcement in 07(besides advertisements)I doubt the car will reach consumers within 3 years.
        Also the Mac is a V8 while the NSX is a 90°turbo V6 with hybrid power. This matches perfectly with the new 2014 F1 engine regs.

      3. Sebee says:

        Chris,

        No doubt there are differences. It may even be that McLaren road cars become an extension of F1 and offer a “detuned” street usuable version of that Honda F1 engine in their cars. Many things are possible.

        But as it stands now, clearly NSX aspires to be compared to the MP4-12C, carries similar shape and technology yet will be much more obtainable – which perhaps is the saving grace, with McLaren being a boutique brand and the NSX never wanting to be that limited or out of reach. There is no doubt in my mind that the NSX will not deliver MP4 power, I’m thinking probably 360HP from the V6 plus the electric motors. However, I think that will be sufficient.

        To me, a motorsport and automorive fan, they look quite similar in appearance. And while I am probably not McLaren target audience and find such cars wasteful (financially), given a choice with my own money…NSX in a blink. Sorry to say this but the MP4 already looks dated to me and reminds me of the Ferrari 360 – an almost 15 year old car. P1…well, that’s a bit different. P1 vs. LaFerrari is no contest. I find the proportions of the LaFerrari strange and design over done – if there is such a thing for uber exotic car.

      4. benny says:

        360hp from the V6? The Honda 1.6 straight 4 puts out 300+ HP (next civic type R) so I think th we NSX will out power that!

      5. JohnBt says:

        The Honda HSV 010 GT, the car that replaced the NSX in the SuperGT series, but the engine still sounds the same. Sure sounded similar or close to the F1 V8.

        http://world.honda.com/HSV-010_GT/

      6. Sebee says:

        Honda has been hanging around motorsport. Beside Tim reminind us below about their V6 Turbo IndyCar efforts, Honda also had a LMP program unde Acura brand with V8 and V6 Turbo power plants.

        Althought they were beaten by Chevrolet in IndyCar. But I smell a rat in that one as IndyCar is a mainly US market effort and is trying to gather US following. They probably needed Chevrolet to show ROI quickly to keep them convinced to stay on. Honda has been the engine to have in US open wheel series.

  4. But James I dont get why McLaren wouldnt switch in 2014 itself?

    With the cars being fully redesigned and re-engineered for 2014 they would build their car around the mercedes power plant first and then have to redo a whole lot of the work again in 2015 to fit the Honda engine.

    If they get the Honda engine in 2014 itself, it would mean that the design of the car can just evolve from 2014 to 2015.

    I read somewhere that someone overheard @Scarbsf1 say that Honda’s engine is ready and it is racking up the hours on the test bed, so its not like they will not be ready in time.

    1. James Allen says:

      Read the last couple of paras. It makes more sense to wait until 2015, think about it

      1. Ben B says:

        Yep, makes sense to me! Honda wouldn’t be jumping into completely unknown territory as far as engine manufacturing is concerned, so they may as well wait for the regs to settle down (whilst also seeing all the other designs) and then come in with a brilliant engine for 2015, which *coincedentally* happens to package just as well as the Mercedes.

      2. Rob says:

        Given that the Japanese are master “incremental innovators”, if they were given a chance to get a good look at a great engine and attempt to improve on it… it would make great sense.

        I don’t see how Honda could start up an F1 engine program in time for the 2014 season, unless they started last year.

  5. athlon says:

    So James, do you think that there is a (strong) chance of Honda’s return to F1 (possibly with McLaren in 2014/15) despite Whitmarsh’s words?

  6. Dale says:

    Well for sure being juts a customer of an engine manufacturer is not good enough for McLaren and whether it’s Honda or another manufacturer, in my opinion it’s a certainty.
    Although Honda are in the press and rumour mill at the moment I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Hyundai suddenly appear, they are a major manufacturer nowadays and having a presence in F1 with McLaren would raise their profile significantly.
    South Korea is an extremely successful manufacturing and innovative country just look how Samsung and LG have risen over the past 15 years.
    Whoever, I hope it happens sooner rather than later – another thought why not VW and BMW?

    1. Dave C says:

      Why not VW or BMW? Well VW are too stuck up and has no respect for the pinnacle of motorsports, they always go on about how Le Mans is more relevant but then I don’t see how those coma inducing races and TDI’s are more relevant in terms of technology or sports, they are just happy to keep on winning Le Mans with no serious challengers apart from an occasional half hearted attacks from the likes of Peogeot and Toyota, the truth is they would be humbled and embarrased in F1 very much like Toyota and Honda.
      As goes for BMW they seem to have given up on a full scale high level motorsport involvement, their DTM and GT3 programs seems to be enough for them, that ‘board meeting’ when they pulled out of F1 seems to have killed off their high cost motorsport involvement so don’t expect them to be back in this decade at the very least, so it’s welcoming news Honda want to team up with Mclaren again, good luck to them.

      1. Basil says:

        I agree completely!

      2. Dale says:

        I totally agree, it’d be welcome news if it’s confirmed that Honda are on their way back to F1 with McLaren (or maybe even Williams – sooner or later they have to have a works engine to join the elite again)?!
        On the BMW front I believe if what we have seen during testing proves to be a true indicator of F1′s 2013 form and Mercedes start winning it’d put huge pressure of the the likes of BMW to compete as the kudos (and potential sales of new cars) Mercedes would gain would be massive.
        As others have said, BMW did at one point have the acknowledged best F1 engine when partnered with Williams so we and they know they can at least compete with the best (though please not as a team owner)!

      3. Pranav says:

        VW have recently entered WRC(with Ogier) and have achieved superb results in first two races against Citroen-Loeb. If they put their mind to it, they are capable of excelling in F1. I think they are focused more on competitions that will be more meaningful to promote their brands. e.g. Audi for LeMans, Polo for WRC.

    2. Timmay says:

      BMW already failed hard.

      1. F458 says:

        Not really. BMW did well in 2001-2003 with the best engine – a shame the williams chassis wasn’t up to it, again they did well in 2006-2008 as a team owner and were progressing year on year until they had one poor year in 2009 and the global economy spooked them and they were gone. High performance V6′s are right up BMW’s street so they should be thinking about coming back to F1 within the next few years.

      2. Kay says:

        2008 BMW could’ve pushed on when Kubica was performing so well in the WDC fight, but noooooooo the lame Dr. Mario Ththhtesin decided they’ve hit the target, so they should just leave it and move on to next year.

        Had they pushed on then they could’ve well put up a serious challenge against Ferrari (Massa) and McLaren (Hamilton).

        That’s where IMO they failed most.

        Had they won that year, BMW probably wouldn’t have pulled the plug on F1.

      3. Kevin Green says:

        High performance V6 diesels are right up BMW’s st? BMW run there 6cyl enginies in a inline format so realistically it would be on a very different solar system!. lol comical

    3. JohnBt says:

      Yeah, couple of years ago Hyundai was planning to be part of F1 until the big boss got caught for corruption, shucks!

  7. Dan says:

    McLaren-Honda. Sounds good to me. It would be great to see this engine giant back in F1, the more the merrier I say!

    1. Simon Donald says:

      We’ve got Lotus-Renault, a Rosberg in the grid, we had a Senna, Turbo engines, it’s like the 80s all over again!!

      1. toleman fan says:

        OT (but riffing off Lotus-Renault);

        James, do you think Renault are serious about dropping Lotus (or less likely Williams) for 2014? And if so, who do you expect Lotus to cut a deal with?

  8. Billy the Skid says:

    It’s all your fault, Lewis!

    1. JohnBt says:

      C,mon that’s rather unfair, lol.

      1. Billy the Skid says:

        Sorry. My dad jus explained the meaning of faseshus to me an told me not to answer in that way again.

  9. AuraF1 says:

    Whitmarsh was at pains to say in that same interview that they have a contract with Mercedes that they intend to honour until 2015 which doesn’t appear in this article.

    But then I suppose we all know what contracts are worth in F1 circles.

    1. Kay says:

      Raikkonen and Ferrari are good reminders.

    2. Peter says:

      2004, when Button fought to be free of his BAR contract so that he could move to Williams at the of 2005. Then, Button changing his mind after signing the binding Williams contract for 2006 onwards and …fighting to stay at BAR!

  10. SuperSi says:

    Nice, I hope they give Mercedes a good thrashing. Maybe they will take off the silver and unveil the Mclaren orange again?

    1. Clear View says:

      I do hope so, my earliest memories of F1 are seeing that car with the orange and white livery on it taking the chequered flag, over and over and over again lol, with Prost and Senna behind the wheel. Shame it can’t say Marlboro on the rear wing too but the fun police stopped that 1…… Lewis would be gutted if they revert back to those colours what with Senna being his idol. Maybe if Merc don’t perform as promised he will get to drive it for 2016 when he goes back to McLaren.

      1. Andrew Carter says:

        Orange? It was red.

      2. KRB says:

        Yeah, white and red then. Would like to see that orange again though.

      3. Tim says:

        I think you may have confused the orange livery of the early McLarens, with the red and white of the later Marlboro sponsored cars.
        I agree they were iconic, but there is no chance of a return due to the ban on tobacco sponsorship in Europe.

    2. Kenny Carwash says:

      I did hear rumours last year that McLaren were planning to segue at some point from rocket red/silver to a rocket red/charcoal grey livery, in order to further damp down the Mercedes link.

      Trouble is, they might end up looking like Marussias!

  11. hero_was_senna says:

    When Honda dominated, they rewrote the rule book on engine design. They had 2 of the greatest drivers in history and they were working with the best teams of the 80′s, Williams and Mclaren.
    With the restrictive rules for engine design, other manufacturers that won’t be caught out again with technology and spending , is this anything more than a marketing excercise for Honda. F1 used to be their training ground for engineers.
    After all , they supplied engines to teams as Mugen, then Honda before they bought the BAR team and ran it as a manufacturer team. Those engines were not the leaders that Honda had formally been.

    regarding the pummelling Mclaren have taken from Mercedes…
    Wasn’t it Ron and Mansour who decided to sell 30% of Mclaren to a Saudi group when Mercedes wanted more equity?
    Wasn’t it Mclaren who embarrassed Mercedes with the £100,000,000 fine over cheating?
    What about Mclaren repeatedly stealing sponsors, engines, and engineers from Williams over the years. To Ron it was all part of the game but what goes around..

    1. W Johnson says:

      Why are you trying to cast Ron and McLaren as evil?

      Ron is perfectly entitled to sell equity to whoever he likes and for whatever reason. Ron would be insane to sell equity to Merecedes knowing they wanted to acquire ownership and control of McLaren and then rename it Mercedes F1?

      The $1 million fine was a FIA shambles under Max and your Ferrari had a shameful role in that! The scandal was as much about the comedy circus that F1 had become under Max because he loved the media limelight!

      And how about the driver, team and advertiser poaching by Ferrari?? So what goes around comes around eh?

      1. Kevin Green says:

        You both have excellent points there….But that really is F1 a constant desperate strive to be at the top, It’s just so annoying how easy a fizzy pops producer is managing to make it look. A real joke on the motoring/tech/manufacturing history of a lot of big long running corperation’s BUT remove one particular link and Redbull come crashing down….And by that i don’t mean owner or principle!

      2. SteveH says:

        Johnson, the fine really was $100,000,000, not $1 million. Now that’s what I call a fine!

      3. W Johnson says:

        Yes….a ridiculous fine from a ridiculous kanagaroo court that reflected the personal politics of Max Moseley more than any correlation to the events and realties in F1.

  12. Luke Harrison says:

    James, Is it not plausible that McLaren would make their own engines? Do they not do that already with the MP4-12C?

    1. James Allen says:

      1. Too expensive
      2. Not core business

      1. Sebee says:

        It would be very bold if they did.

        Would customer teams not off-set the cost partially?

        Aren’t there some Cosworth people looking around for work?

      2. Timmay says:

        McLaren do not want to come last for 4 years before the engine becomes more than half decent.

      3. Nathhulal says:

        @Timmay – We tend to forget the history quickly. Mercedes Engines was one of the weaknesses of McLaren in the V10 era. When Cosworth stopped supplying F1 engines at the end of 2006 season and stopped their operations, Mercedes acquired Cosworth personnel and Mercedes became bullet proof high performing engine maker in F1.

        Cosworth may not have enough funding ( obviously due to the small client base on the F1 grid), but has great human capital.
        That human capital with organization like McLaren to invest in it will definitely work wonders.
        That combination will not help, not only the F1 program, but will help Ron realize his dream of becoming a Ferrari like marquee from England, that produces sports car, builds its own engines that run both its F1 cars as well as Sports car.

        Again, there is an opportunity to find customers for the “McLaren Engines” on the F1 grid (and in other racing series).

      4. Aaron says:

        McLaren don’t make engines. The costs of developing engines completely form scratch would be insane, as they don’t have the 100+ years experience that other major manufacturers do. They also don’t have an outlet for engines. Honda, Renault, Mercedes etc. sell millions of road cars, McLaren sell a few hundred each year.

      5. Sebee says:

        Aaron, I have to call you out on the 100+ years of experience thing.

        McLaren doesn’t have the car building experience of Ferrari, yet here we have a P1 and others. Tesla? Many others.

        You can buy technology. You can reverse engineer technology. 100+ years of experience is not an advantage anymore. In fact, those large corporate entities driven by many layers of directors and managers are slower to respond in most cases. I think McLaren could fully put together a business plan that would make their engine shot profitable.

      6. SteveH says:

        @Arron. Don’t forget that Mercedes engines is/was Ilmor Engineering.

      7. Witan says:

        Isn’t Cosworth for sale and not a million miles from the McLaren base. McLaren already make some engines and if the sports car business grows then engines may seem more ‘core’.

        Perhaps a partnership with Honda to develop the engine business would suit Honda’s tendency to fixed term commitments and McLaren’s need to grow the brand outside the track just as Ferrari do.

      8. Kenny Carwash says:

        Coule their partnership with Ricardo for the MP4-12C’s engines not be extended to making an F1 unit?

    2. Steven says:

      The MP4-12C powerplant comes from Ricardo

  13. Axel says:

    Great stuff James! Really enjoyed the reading!

  14. Stuart Harrison says:

    I wonder how Jenson will feel about driving for Honda again? :)

    1. Sebee says:

      HA HA HA!!! Completely forgot about that situation.

      Also, I mentioned elsewhere, that McLaren probably would not be the only team to get the engines. There would be others which may create a Jordan/BAR scenario.

    2. Spyros says:

      That was my first thought too…

    3. Jonathan says:

      I expect that not only does Jenson welcome the idea but that his involvement with McLaren is a catalyst for this exciting scenario.

      Honda and Jenson always got on well together. Jenson’s other half also has connections and he spends a lot of time in Japan.

      but where will the engine be built? Honda had a big involvement with Ilmor – which created headaches when Mercedes bought in to the British based engine builder they rely on.

    4. Sebee says:

      Second thought…

      Remember how hard BAR fought with Williams to get Button? Remember how they threw all that money to build a car before pulling out? Remember his 1/2 Japanese wife?

      Button may actually be a huge asset right now to McLaren in pulling Honda back in. They like him. They really really like him.

      1. Stone the crows says:

        Yes, Jensen is much loved in Japan.

  15. goferet says:

    Now a Honda-Mclaren partnership would sure revive the memories from the good old days.

    But if you were to ask me, I wouldn’t advise Honda to make a comeback for making up with an ex girlfriend doesn’t usually work out, for one, things never the same.

    Also from a business point of view, it would hurt Honda’s image for right now Mclaren hasn’t got dynamic, controversial drivers that can keep Honda’s name in the headlines (for better or worse)

    And yes, am not lost on the irony that Honda’s worst run in F1 was with Jenson at BAR.

    As for Mclaren, if they have self esteem issues, maybe it’s time they did bite the bullet and start making their own engines (seeing as they’re in road car business and all)

    It’s either that or stick with Mercedes for sometimes we have no choice but to make deals with the opponent for only then can you truly carry out a Trojan invasion.

    1. W Johnson says:

      You make a great point about self esteem and pride.
      To avoid a fall, it may well be worth swallowing this to do a Trojan horse invasion on Mercedes if this is the best option and McLaren can afford to pay up for the engine.

  16. Optimaximal says:

    Surely this is the way things are.

    Mercedes no doubt collected a lot of data on how McLaren run things which gave them ideas on how to improve Brackley ahead of their 2010 purchase of Brawn.

    No doubt they’d also use the same tactics if one of the Renault or Ferrari crowd decided to switch to Mercedes engines.

  17. goferet says:

    “Honda is not so well known in Europe; they are focussed on Asia and the US.
    ————————————————

    But last I checked, Europe is a basket case and anybody that wants to make money would be wise to invest in the Asian and US markets for that’s were the party is.

    1. double eyepatch says:

      Good thing F1 has established into Asian countries in recent years and been trying to find more races in America than just Austin then.

    2. benny says:

      Yes, Rolf Granted seems to be very uniformed ( Or just wrong) I would argued Honda is very well known in Europe its popular in bikes and power products,has its own WTCC team, its cars have been on sale for 30 years,it had previous F1 exposure, Its just generally car sales are currently very poor in Europe. Its certainly not a new brand like Infinity trying to become recognised!!

      Also he says “The weakening Yen will help reduce vehicle prices” However Honda believes in producing products locally for its markets hence the Honda factory in Swindon UK for the European market. So how will yen currency rates help produce cars in Britain at a lower cost?

      1. benny says:

        And own BTCC team!

      2. Kenny Carwash says:

        Hondas are a familiar site on British roads for sure, but what about continental Europe? As a right-hand drive market, the UK is attractive to Japanese car manufactuerers, but from memory I don’t think they sell nearly as many on the continent.

  18. Quade says:

    It sounds like a dead end deal. Honda have been away from the sport so long that McLaren might be better off buying up Cosworth or another engine supplier if they need to exit from Merc. Then they can have complete control of chassis and engine. It can’t be too late to invest in the PURE engine also.

    1. toleman fan says:

      The PURE people are working for Honda already…

      1. Quade says:

        Are you certain about this? I’d love to see any back up links if you have any. If true, it would certainly make things interesting for McLaren as PURE have Gilles Simon who used to head the FIA engine development section. It could see them move from the FIA’s pet hate (in Ron Dennis time) to insiders.
        I can’t find anything to back up the Honda/PURE link, though. The best I can find is a link with Toyota who are Japanese like Honda; however, linking manufacturers by nationality is tennous at best.

      2. toleman fan says:

        I was exaggerating outrageously. But…

        …The only guy from PURE that I know is now with Honda is Gilles Simon.

        If I’m allowed the link, it’s here:
        http://joesaward.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/at-a-snowy-viry-chatillon/

        Otherwise, google Gilles Simon pure Honda, look at the Joe Saward page…and read Joe’s contributions to the comments.

  19. goferet says:

    To say that there is no love lost between the two would be putting it mildly.
    ————————————————

    Yeah, this will be one of the fascinating episodes from the 2013 season.

    Whitmarsh already laid down the gauntlet by saying Mclaren intend to beat Lewis in a bid to make him regret for leaving.

    Luckily for Lewis, he will no longer be getting his new rubber from Mclaren’s pit box.

  20. paul jaworski says:

    Keep us informed James. Your info is the best. I for one thought that the memory of 2008 would be a real sore spot. Paying millions to leave F1 and Supporting Brawn when they won everything in 2009. That has to have created some bad Memories for the Honda board of directors.

  21. Luca says:

    a couple of thoughts come to mind
    1) Step learning curve for Honda given they have not been about since pre-Kers.
    2) Timing of a move will prove tricky to get on to Honda without having to use Merc for a good year or two.
    3) Doesnt Merc need the customers to help fund all the changes.
    4) Would McL sign up for being in a position in 8 years time when they have to get another supplier.
    5) Am still surprised that McL have not gone the whole hog and wanted to use this as a chance to build their own engines and copy the Ferrari ‘business’ model wholesale.

    like i say, some initial thoughts which probably can be argued either way pretty easily.

  22. Anne says:

    McLaren has other things to be more concerned about it. For example Do they have the right drivers? Do they have the right technical director? The right management running the show? The engine can´t do magic if they don´t have the right people in charge.

    1. Quade says:

      True. This is the time to step back and steady the ship, instead of adding more ingredients to the existing confusion.

      McLaren needs to take small bites at this time to avoid taking on a fatal workload. No team is too big to buckle unfer pressure.

  23. Simple says:

    As an ardent McLaren fan, I love the nostalgic notion of a McLaren-Honda return. The realist in me has concerns tho. McLaren seems to have been bleeding talent since Adrian left. Post Adrian we have had spy gate and lie gate. Three of the biggest driver names in formula 1 have left the team and we have seen big name tech people moving on, or being moved on, the culmination being Paddy’s departure.

    As James has mentioned, Mercedes are not going to cater to McLaren desires now that they are in direct competition. Logical business sense dictates that McLaren need to find a new engine partner. The problem, to my mind, is that this creates even greater instability that we currently see within McLaren.

    We Macca fans have endured some tough years since 1999. I don’t see that changing any time soon sadly.

    1. W Johnson says:

      I don’t understand all these comments criticizing McLaren for losing top drivers…drivers switching teams was the norm in F1 until very recently. And McLaren don’t have the same resources to compete with Mercedes, Redbull and Ferrari in a wage bidding war.

  24. Cedgy says:

    Thank you James for answering my question I posted a few days ago in such a brilliant way. This is why i keep coming back to this website.
    Great article, great read and from what you’re saying a McLaren-Honda partnership would make perfect sense. Bring it on!

    Cheers

  25. dufus says:

    Argh, i’m sticking with Bernie. Don’t lose the V8′s !

  26. Sebee says:

    It makes sense. And it doesn’t.

    Honda return would mean at least two teams get the engines.

    Also, Honda didn’t win then, and now there are even more heavy hitters. Odds are smaller for success I think. And Japanese are good at math.

    But that 2009 WDC has to really sting…and Japanese have honor and saving face too.

    I hope thia is so. We need some bew blood in there in case someone does pull out.

  27. FerrariFan says:

    Why would Mercedes want to supply McLaren engines for just one year if they are going to give away trade secrets to Honda? I think they will demand a milti-year contract.

    On a different note. Welcome back Honda! I love the brand and might start supporting McLaren Honda (only if they have a more exciting driver lineup) I guess Nico Hulkenberg and Kamui Kobyashi at McLaren will be a good combination.

    1. FerrariFan says:

      or Ron Dennis should beg and bring back Hamilton or Alonso

      1. Random 79 says:

        I can’t see Ron begging, and even if he did I can’t see Lewis or Fernando moving back – too much bad blood.

      2. W Johnson says:

        or Ron Dennis should get a rival engine supplier embedded into the team in 2014….
        Nice one!

        Ron would never have Alonso back after the damage he did to the team. Any employee who tried to black mail me would be instantly sacked!

    2. Lozza says:

      People need to have faith in Button. He is a very experienced driver and I am sure he would deliver results with a Honda engine in a car he will have been driving for four or five seasons by the time the Honda engine is fitted. Perez can beat Hamilton, and there is no doubt that Jenson can too in the right frame of mind. We’ll have to wait for Australia to see where things head if you ask me.

    3. iceman says:

      The 2014 engine supply would be covered by the multi-year contract that McLaren and Mercedes already have.

    4. W Johnson says:

      McLaren have a contract with Mercedes so they are obligated to supply engines to the team It’s that simple!

      Great for McLaren if they can take advantage of their situation before saying auf wiedersehn. Don’t forget that it was Mercedes that changed the dynamic in the relationship by making McLaren just a customer.

  28. T Nelan Esq says:

    James,
    I wish that this time next year you will be writing a similar article entitled “Why McLaren with Honda and Kamui Makes Sense”.

    1. Quade says:

      Thats a point! A Honda deal would endanger Jensons seat. The team already have a valuable pay driver in Perez and Honda would want to promote Kamui or some other Japanese driver (no Takuma Sat by the Grace of God!).
      So if the deal is coming, would next year be Jensons last in F1? Probably for a BBC career next to Coulthard.

      1. Basil says:

        This is laughable! Honda really likes Jenson.

  29. madmax says:

    I just want to see them red and white McLarens again, preferably as soon as possible.

  30. ashboy says:

    this can only be good news for F1 Renualt cant supply all the teams.

  31. MISTER says:

    Another great article. Keep them coming James.

    “This would leave Mercedes supplying its engine to McLaren in 2014, knowing that Honda engineers would be crawling all over it from later this year onwards.”

    What do you mean by this? How would Honda engineers have access to Mercedes F1 engines? Are you thinking that McLaren would allow Honda engineers to look at the Mercedes engine if their plan is to come back to F1 with McLaren?

    1. Random 79 says:

      If you were McLaren and didn’t have a lot of love for Mercedes right now, and if you had Honda engineers looking to develop a new engine for you, then you might wink and step aside too ;)

      1. Anne says:

        [mod]. It´s about $$$
        Mercedes told McLaren that they have to pay for the engines starting next season. So it´s makes sense for McLaren to look for an alternative.

      2. Rex Plikativ says:

        You’ve just been Wellerised.
        The Mod-Father strikes again.

      3. Random 79 says:

        Yep, moneys always a motive too :)

    2. Steven says:

      I believe that once the engines are delivered and payed for the do belong to the team. Or am I wrong? James?

      1. Quade says:

        Unlike the rest of F1, engines are likely to be bristling with patents; so there might be daunting legal issues if McLaren allowed Honda engineers to stray too close. In that event, the $100 million spygate fine would become childs play.

      2. Random 79 says:

        I would assume that the engines themselves belong to the team, but the intellectual property still belongs to Mercedes…and they would not want Honda getting their mitts on it ;)

      3. Steven says:

        Both comments make sence to me, but I wonder how out really works. Perhaps its written in the contract that the engines can’t be open outside of the MB factory. Would be interesting to find out the particulars.

      4. SteveH says:

        The manufacturer owns the engines and usually the deal is hands off. The teams install the engine but can’t open it up or do anything to it. The engines are recycled back to the manufacturer after they reach their mileage limit then rebuilt and sent back to the teams.

  32. W Johnson says:

    Like Honda, Mercedes have perfomed badly since becoming an F1 team. Their only success has been as the engine supplier to McLaren….and so heavy weight poaching of top driver and technical staff is probably the last straw for McLaren.

    Time to say auf wiedersehn Mercedes! I only wish is it was sooner!

  33. W Johnson says:

    I love the idea of Honda crawling over Mercedes engines!

    That’s called payback!

    1. Sebee says:

      Indeed.

      Is there a history of IP “borrowing” there?

      1. W Johnson says:

        Yes…McLaren technical information flowing to Mercedes through the knowledge acquired makes a complete nonsense of Spygate especially when a certain team was using its position and power within F1 to maximise the damage on another team…and then recruits some of the key personnel involved. Hypocrisy.

      2. Sebee says:

        Hypocrisy…with a 100M price tag.

        Honestly, the two things that really irritate me about that till this day is how McLaren were treated vs. how Renault was treated by FIA. And how Alonso handled it with Ron Dennis.

        Under those extraordinary circumstances I feel we saw some ugliness exposed.

      3. W Johnson says:

        I started to follow McLaren because of the sense of anger and injustice to the team from the way they were treated by FIA with its puppet strings pulled by Ferrari during and after Spygate under Max Moseley.

    2. Jonathan says:

      Thinking of the history…

      and of Mercedes paying Ilmor to put a German name on a British built engine…

      the same Ilmor that built the Honda badged Indycar engines…

      it could well be that these Honda engineers just so happen to be the same ones that laid down the basic design of the current “Mercedes” V8!

    3. I would be surprised if the engine supply deals with F1 teams are not identical to the old CART “sealed engine lease” contracts. The engine suppliers give one or more engineers to each team that runs their engines, and I believe that the engines and everything associated with them remain the property of the engine supplier.
      The most blatant example of IP espionage that I can remember is the infamous Alfa Romeo “borrowing” of an Ilmor Indy v8 powerplant, which went for a vacation in Italy from the Patrick Racing shop. Ilmor did work out what had happened, and forever refused to ever supply Patrick Racing again in CART. After that incident, sealed engine leases became the norm in CART.

  34. Jeroen says:

    Hi James

    This morning there is some news from mr Tavares from Renault going on about the lack of recognition they get for the championships with RB. He also highly praises Williams, lotus and catheram. Makes me wonder what is going on there as it sounds like they rather be champs with Williams. Any chance Red Bull is also choosing/forced to find another engine? Porche??

    1. James Allen says:

      Hardly – they’ve just done a huge deal with Inifiniti – which is part of the Renault group!

      RBR is Renault’s works team and the 2014 engine will be designed to be exactly what RBR want it to be size and layout wise.

      1. Phil says:

        How many $ are the rumours saying it is James?

      2. Wade Parmino says:

        That must make Lotus feel pretty lousy, given the Enstone team’s history with Renault.

      3. Anne says:

        Yes but Lotus history started long before their Renault history. So they could go back to basic and honor Champman

      4. SteveH says:

        Yes, but Anne, Lotus now was not Lotus then. Now Lotus was Renault, built by the Renault team for Renault. It’s Lotus in name only, not in history.

    2. iceman says:

      Not only do they get little recognition, they have to put up with Christian Horner complaining about how their engines are not powerful enough!

      1. Aaron says:

        I think Horner is more concerned with how often their alternators blow up.

  35. Chris says:

    It would be fun to see Ferrari’s, Williams Renaults and McLaren Hondas fighting it out again, but it’s true to say some things should be left to sweet memory. Having said that Williams found the winning touch again with their old partners, so why not.
    Any chance of a revival of an old McLaren livery? Maybe all orange, or a red and white one?

    1. Random 79 says:

      If they part ways with Mercedes and Vodafone, I think it’s a safe bet you’ll see a new (or classic) McLaren livery :)

  36. AENG says:

    One matter,
    for the sport itself will be quite benefical Honda’s return but, how competitive engines they will supply, that’s the question, and Merc concern is understandable too about leakage of technology.

  37. yassin says:

    Why pay for something you can get for free?

    1. Anne says:

      No they can´t get it for free. Mercedes made it clear to McLaren that they will charge them for future engines. Honda sure looks like a cheaper deal. But cheap and quality don´t always go together

      1. Steven says:

        I believe Yassin was saying that why pay for the MB lump if honda will do it for free. Yassin?

  38. Tom says:

    There’s something about this comment: “Honda is not so well known in Europe” that causes an involuntary raising of an eyebrow!
    Honda are a huge brand in Western Europe, that’s a very funny thing to stipulate. Where they suffer is that they have a predominately old cliental; possibly harking back to when Japanese cars were considered the bees knees for reliability. The Civic has mostly retained its original concept’s styling so they’re trying for a younger audience, F1 would fit with that.

    1. C-M says:

      And of course lets not forgot motorcycles where Honda is arguably the most well know brand in Europe.

      1. Chris says:

        James is right, Britain is one of Hondas biggest european markets!!

  39. Rudy says:

    Maybe i’m a purist but a REAL F-1 team makes its own engine. McLaren, Williams, Red Bull share their success with the engine manufacturer. Shame on those who crawl for an engine deal.

    1. DC says:

      So the only ‘real’ F1 teams are the major car manufacturers? I would say that’s the opposite of the ‘purist’ view!

    2. Rich C says:

      So you probably shouldn’t count somebody who, for example, re-badges Ilmor engines?
      So there’s only 1 ‘real’ F1 then? 3-Car Monte will be happy!

    3. Random 79 says:

      Right now there are 11 teams in F1. Do you think they should *all* make their own engines, or that the only teams allowed should be the manufacturers?

      Shame on you.

      1. Anne says:

        I do. Don´t hurt my nostalgic feelings. I´m not talking about recent bizarre experiments like BMW or Toyota.I´m talking about the early days of F1. I know it´s not going to happen so I don´t really ask. I watch Le Mans, DTM, rally and I get manufacturers

      2. Random 79 says:

        I have no intention of trying to hurt your feelings.

        I take it that the early days that you’re talking about are back in the fifties, with teams like Alfa Romeo alongside Ferrari and Mercedes. Classic days, but the world has changed drastically since then, and F1 has changed with it – and it’s not likely to ever return to those days.

        It’s easy to look back, because the past always seems better. Case in point and on topic for a change: V8 engines.

        I imagine that when the engines were changed from V12s to V10s there was an outcry, and again when the V10s were changed to V8s.

        Now that the V8s are going to be changed to V6s there’s another outcry, but I bet at some point in the future when it is proposed that they switch from V6 to V4 engines everybody starts complaining about it and campaigning to stay with the V6 engines?

        Keep in mind, they were originally talking about switching straight from V8s to V4s, so it’s not out of the question.

        I might have gone off on a slight tangent there (sorry), but my basic point is that we need private teams as much as we need manufacturers – and that goes double for teams like McLaren, Williams and Sauber who have a bit of history of their own.

        We can’t just rely on manufacturers because frankly as soon as market conditions or the economy don’t suit them they bail (with the exception of Ferrari).

    4. Steven says:

      HAHAHA!! You sound like Enzo, garagistas?

    5. Wade Parmino says:

      Well that makes Ferrari the only ‘real’ F1 team at certain points in the history of F1? ;)

  40. tim few says:

    James do you think that Mclaren should be looking for a way to buy in to engine supply? A lot is made of Mclaren being the British Ferrari, but without their own engine division they will always be reliant and it could be their downfall if they choose incorrectly

    1. James Allen says:

      I don’t think they can afford it. Don’t underestimate how much it costs to make engines. It’s massively expensive and risky if you get it wrong.

      McLaren has taken on some debt to build up the road car side, as I understand it and so from a business prudence point of view it would require big investment from elsewhere to do an engine.

      1. Anne says:

        Maybe it´s insane what I´m thinking. Why not Rolls Royce? Not just the engine but also use their aircraft technology for a better aerodynamic development of the car. Of course withing the limits of the rules

      2. Gravity says:

        Rolls Royce (motors) is a BMW sunsidiary now..

      3. Steven says:

        I don’t think McLaren needs any help with aerodynamics. Besides, the principals are the same, but on F1 aerodynamics are used to make ths car suck to the road as much as possible With as little drag as possible, on airplanes its about flying.

      4. Anne says:

        I know that they are owned by BMW. However they were born British and it´s still a separate brand. But if McLaren goal is to be the British Ferrari and if they don´t want to make their own engine, well, they could have talks with Rolls Royce, Bently or Aston Martin.

      5. NF1 says:

        Rolls Royce is VW
        Bentley is BMW

      6. Matt says:

        Rolls Royce is owned by BMW

        Bentley is part of the VW group (alongside Porsche and Audi – hence the recent debate about whether the three could compete against one another in the LMP1 class).

      7. Kenny Carwash says:

        Rolls Royce Motors (cars) and Rolls Royce plc (aero engines) are two separate companies. VW own the car company, but the Rolls Royce brand is licensed to BMW.

  41. Jonny says:

    James,

    Do you think Mercedes should be worried that their intellectual property / blueprints in the new V6s will likely be shared by McLaren (to Honda)?

    Can Mercedes prevent this somehow from happening?

    Can they get out of the engine agreement with McLaren provided that McLaren is planning on switching sides?

    1. James Allen says:

      That’s why I raise it in the final paras. A real headache for sure!

      Also they’ll get huge benefit from entering in 2015 as there will be all sorts of checks and balances and fiddling going on in the Technical Working Group during 2014 as they bed in the new engines. Honda can incorporate all of that without any risks.

      Much riskier to enter in 2014, along with everyone else.

      1. DB4Tim says:

        James I thought ALL engines are seal…if anyone touched that engine in any why Merc would know….visually form the outside would be of limited use, give the intelligence level of Honda …or ??

      2. Stone the crows says:

        I certainly agree, Honda would be able to benefit from the efforts/errors of Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault in 2014 with no loss or cost to themselves.

    2. Jonathan says:

      I would doubt that McLaren would see any “blueprints” of the internals – they only need external views for packaging purposes.

      Beyond that modern engineering is so sophisticated that the data gathered from running a car and the level of observations of competitors cars will tell Honda enormous amounts without needing to get their hands on a Mercedes engine. On top of that the engineers from Honda and Mercedes will all have worked together in the Ilmor days and be following the same processes.

      1. SteveH says:

        Not only that, but the rules ave very restrictive, specifying V angle, bore, c.g., minimum weight, revs, fuel flow, turbo placement, materials, mounting bolt location, etc. etc. etc. Seems to me the only place for real innovation is the energy recovery system.

  42. CarlH says:

    Nicely written James. I hadn’t considered the benefits on both sides until I read this.

    Informed observers seem to believe that Mercedes’ engine from 2014 onwards is going to be a force to be reckoned with, but when you consider Honda’s expertise in smaller turbo engines I doubt they would produce an inferior product. Is there any chance of McLaren moving towards developing their own engines any time soon? I’ve always found it strange that a team with the attention to detail and manufacturing aspirations of McLaren rely on engines produced by others. When you consider the McLaren Technology Centre and their road-car programme, surely this has to be in their mid to long term plan?

    Quick question James – on a somewhat related note, have the rumours from the paddock surrounding Mercedes’ possible withdrawal from F1 completely evaporated now, or is it linked to their success within the next few years? Surely pulling out now, after the recruitment drive they’ve been on / souring their pre-existing F1 link with McLaren, would leave them as a laughing stock within the motor industry?

    1. Random 79 says:

      Give them a couple more years. If they succeed, they’ll likely stay. If not…

  43. R M says:

    …this is going to end in tears *listen, can you hear the sound of lawyers giggling like small children*

  44. Peter says:

    James, I understand that a V6 motor is more relevant than a V8 in today’s climates. But how does a 1.6lt engine revving to 18,000rpm producing 700hp really relevant to any manufacturers production vehicles?

    Would love to see Honda back in F1 again, always have wondered how they would of done had they stayed with the Brawn GP chassis which was their car with their engine instead of the Mercedes. But we could never really know, it’s like asking who the best driver of all time is.

    1. Random 79 says:

      The power is irrelevant, but the technology involved (especially the ERS) is very relevant.

      But now that you mention it, I wouldn’t mind driving a little Honda hatchback with 700hp :)

    2. Tyler says:

      @peter the new 1.6 litre engines won’t rev to 18,000 rpm. The new limit imposed by the regs will be 15,000 rpm and the technical articles I have read suggest that the effective limit, for fuel economy reasons, will be 12,000 rpm.

      1. Peter says:

        Tyler: Didn’t know that would only rev to 15,000 or even limited to 12,000. which is very interesting.

        Random: fair enough with the technology side of things, its how F1 has already been, but do wonder if we will ever see a 1.6lt V6 Turbo EVER, imagine one in a Honda Jazz with 700hp!

  45. AndyFov says:

    This is interesting. I think McLaren need to do something else they run the risk of having a few years like Williams have had. I’d far prefer them to be at the very front of the pack, or if not very close to it.

    Is there scope for any synergy on the road car side? Or would McLaren prefer to stick with their existing supplier of components?

  46. Michael says:

    I don’t have any sympathy for Mclaren. They are too arrogant. They could’ve kept Hamilton and Lowe. They tried to playing hardball and lost out in the end.

    1. Jenny says:

      Or they won big time!

    2. W Johnson says:

      How is managing the finances arrogant?

      Just perhaps they don’t have the money you think they have. They certainly do not have the cash to compete with Mercedes, Ferrari or Redbull in a bidding war over key drivers so perhaps you should be more realistic.

      All but four teams are in survival mode!

    3. Anon says:

      I agree to be honest, so many legends have left Mclaren and what was Ron Dennis saying a few weeks/months ago “We don’t need those that don’t bleed rocket red blood”. If that’s the case then the likes of Senna, Prost, Hamilton, Raikonnen and Lowe aren’t true Mclaren legends because they left for other teams.

  47. tanaka says:

    The one thing no one has mentioned with the possibility of all these “new” engine manufacturers is what the rules on development are. For instance there is a cut off date for all the current manufacturers i.e Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault where all development work is frozen. Would Honda or the others be able to design their engine with the benefit of hindsight from data supplied by Mclaren as James implies?? I think anyone remotely interested should have signed up by now.

  48. Kevin Green says:

    Mclaren really messed up there they should have parted company at the same time as the shares break up/Honda team take over.
    You could argue they have wasted what is lively overall to be 5 F1 seasons +. I still believe aquisition of Cosworth would be the smart move on all levels for Mclaren.

    1. W Johnson says:

      Cosworth engines have not been a very succesful proposition even for the lower teams in F1 so Why would it be good invetsment for McLaren?

      1. Kevin Green says:

        For a start they clearly know there onions [mod], they have great people core and heritage, They appear to be struggling financially but if Mclaren took them over it would tick so many boxes F1 wise ability to go it alone engine wise if you wish have no wonders about dodgy reliability from outwith and the biggest reason there rd cars as if they get that right the investment in F1 terms would be the minnow factor to the deal. Makes total sense i feel they would be foolish to miss it. Did i mention Cosworth huge sales base to virtually all motor sports and a large number of rd car manufacturers?…[mod]

      2. roryfireplace says:

        historically, Cosworth is one of the most successful engine suppliers ever.

  49. Nick says:

    Lewis Hamilton’s decision to move on looks more and more sensible as the days go by.

    While it would be foolish to write Mclaren off, I suspect they will likely be looking at a bit of a transitional period over the next few years, as they did for the first 2 or 3 years of the Mercedes partnership.

    Will be interesting to see how Hamilton’s and Buttons fortunes differ over the next couple of seasons.

    1. Jonathan says:

      With the new engines ALL teams are looking at a transitional period.

      We are likely to see some major upsets next year. We could easily see one engine builder dominate next year… if that is Renault Caterham could be challenging Williams for the championship.

      McLaren’s ability for prodigious development will mean nothing if the Mercedes engine is hopeless. Then there is the prospect of ferrari depending on Fiat engineers to make the small V6 work.

      1. Anon says:

        Caterham vs Williams? :D Williams possibly as they have a reasonable budget and some very creative and innovative designers. In my opinion the title will be won by whichever team out of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull has the most effective ERS.

  50. Trevor Murphy says:

    If McLaren EVER want to truly be Ferrari equal or surpass them they must start building their own engines.

    Would it not be a great time to buy Cosworth, invest a little bit there and bring them under the McLaren banner?

    If they continue buying engines, they can never achieve their long term ambitions IMO

    1. Dimitar Kadrinski says:

      And why should they buy loose by buying the engines, if anything, they can only benefit from that..
      The way the current situation is in the sport, building your own engine can only give you an advantage in the first year after a major change like this (which is not very often) then the field is levelled on engines (more or less) and it is then engineering the best chassis that gives you the win. Do you have the slightest idea what kind of an investment is needed to start manufacturing your own engines… and make them good at the same time..????

    2. Phil says:

      Long term isn’t 2 years though is it? Probably about 9 years though…

  51. Gustavo says:

    Mercedes themselves are not doing very well in terms of financial and stock price performance. When compared to BMW and VW over the past four years, it truly is a very bleak and embarrassing picture. I would argue that losing McLaren as a customer could be much more damaging to Mercedes than what they’ve done to McLaren in the last year or so. I cannot imagine how the Board of Directors would support Mercedes staying in F1 if they cannot at least break even on that investment which looks highly unlikely if they lose 25% of their revenues on the engine side. Their only chance to remain in F1 in that scenario is to be world champions.

    However, one would assume that the cost of a Honda engine for McLaren would be much higher than that of Mercedes’, unless Honda finds at least two other customers (Force India and Marussia, perhaps?).

    In my opinion, there are so many different scenarios that one could think of that is just better to enjoy the next couple of seasons and wait for the news.

  52. Mart Jackson says:

    All very exciting, but will Honda be any good out of the box? Have Honda actually been working on this for some time? I would imagine yes and yes.

    1. Matt Jackson says:

      Matt not Mart

  53. Mario says:

    Awesome… It would be great for the sport. Thanks for the insight James!

  54. AMSG says:

    James
    How real is this, or just a rumour to pull better contract terms or deflect pride from the staff losses to Merc.
    After all we haven’t heard it from the god himself EJ !!!! Who teams seem to use as a mouth piece to play the media !

    1. James Allen says:

      I think it’s got legs

  55. Gravity says:

    If Honda wants to re-enter F1 – they can’t have a better way than to partner with Mclaren. They have had an awesome historical success as well. Of the 5 years they partnered, they won 4 WDCs & 4 Constructors – right?

    1. DB4Tim says:

      History does not matter in the view of business….it is what are you going to do, not what you have done.

      Yesterday a memory
      Today is fact
      Tomorrow is the future

  56. zombie says:

    Though the members of this blog have long discussed the possibility of Honda and Mclaren coming together for 2014 or 2015, i disagree to the notion that Honda will gain anything “marketing” wise by re-entering F1.

    The European car market is saturated and hardly growing. Honda’s bread and butter is in US and Asia, and they have done very well in those markets without F1. Besides, i doubt if Honda have forgotten the bitter lessons of their BAR days already.

    Although i wouldnt be too surprised to see Mclaren-Honda coming together once again, i would’ve thought Renault engines would have been a natural choice for Mclaren considering the Mclaren road car uses a Nissan based engine. Oh well, interesting days ahead and while we are at it, i hope BMW, Toyota and Ford make a comeback too.

  57. Williams4Ever says:

    Here are my thoughts on this subject, that I had put on my blog earlier – http://bit.ly/12wpXeJ

  58. Dren says:

    The new compounded turbo hybrid power unit fits well with the rumored drive train going into the next NSX as well.

    I’d love to see Honda return, and with a top team!

  59. Chris says:

    Are conditions between McLaren and Mercedes so sour that McLaren might consider Renault power for the first year of the new regs? Or dare I say…Ferrari power?! It would be interesting to see how Mercedes react to this likelihood and how far they try to twist McLaren into a longer term contract. I just wonder how much of a pummelling McLaren have to endure if the earliest Honda steps in is 2015

    1. AuraF1 says:

      I think the distrust between McLaren and Renault would be almost as extensive. Now that Renault have Red Bull as their works team – it is an unlikley alliance – besides Renault are most likely at their limits and don’t really want to supply more teams. Ferrari might be fighting Red Bull these days but they have McLaren as their historic long term rivals, so I don’t see that ever happening.

      Honda are very clinical and high tech and love the image of clean/economic/hybrid technology – which seems to suit the whole McLaren trend and mindset of Ron Dennis’ group as a whole.

      It’s also perfect as if Honda, as James suggests, tend to enjoy a 7-8 year stint before leaving, this would be ample time for McLaren to start up and get up to speed with their in-house engines – a long term project which 8-10 years down the road is a more realistic possibility.

      1. Sebee says:

        You are right about clinical and high tech.

        How do they square Honda NSX and McLaren MP4/12C products?

        McLaren are in a very weak negotiating position with Mercedes now. Could it be just using some old contacts to try to get leverage?
        After all, Mercedes wants a customer too. I’m sure McLaren won’t get the engines free.

        McLaren is a big machine, but I sometimes feel they are on a path to becoming more Williams-ish. They are definately hurt by Mercedes, those were big blows they took. Ron will need to earn his keep to make things happen. I have a bit of concern that their realized ambition to take on Ferrari products is painting them into a corner, leaving only the Ferrari path as option – making their own engines. But they may not be ready just yet.

        Unless it’s a stealth project they have worked on already.

      2. Sebee says:

        Oh yeah…let us not forget.

        P.U.R.E. – working on engine and adopted to V4. Many people there who could take on the project.

        Cosworth – again, some free minds and hands ready to do an engine.

        Could it be that those resources were put to use for McLaren to make their own? I’m sure chance is slim that it would stay a secret, but it’s possible.

      3. Kenny Carwash says:

        PURE suspended development on their engine program last summer.

      4. Sebee says:

        Yes Kenny, but people and plans are there.

  60. Onko says:

    Mr Allen,on the subject of Engines could you
    please enlight in some way in regard to
    Renault,do they have a contract with FIA to
    its compliance of 1.6 displecment engine ?.
    As I recall they were treatening to pull out
    of F1 if there was a change from 1.4 engine
    concept in fact they were adamant to do so.
    In the hindsight they did.
    Your thoughts.

  61. Paul Watson says:

    James, at what point through this coming year do you think McLaren will have to make a choice? In part they must already be working on their 2014 car (as Merc and Ferrari are) but surely they’ll come a point where the engine they are going to use most be known, at least to the designers.

    1. James Allen says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s already decided. The noises are getting louder and that usually means its done or close to being done

  62. Javier Marcelo says:

    Has ever McLaren been using Renault engines? I’m not sure but don’t think so. They are, they have been, two top and genuine F1 teams so one can’t wear the other’s engine. If this is so, what other option does maca has?. Continuing with merc? I really trust this news.

    1. Alex says:

      At the end of 1992 when Honda left F1, McLaren tried hard to get a supply of Renault engines but failed.

      1. Yes, they did. I read an interview with Michael Andretti where he said that one of the reasons that he signed with McLaren for 1993 was that he was told they were going to have Renault power for 1993 and beyond.

      2. Phil says:

        From memory the deal would have happened, but McLaren refused to give up Shell and Renault refused to give up Elf. Would have been a pretty tidy package. Same problem came up with Peugeot and Total, that time Shell winning, but when Merc came along they went to Mobil 1.

  63. James Encore says:

    “You put your engines in,
    you pull your engines out, in out ‘Mugen’ and shake it all about …
    “You put a whole team in ,
    you pull your whole team out….”

    Honda’s “Hokey cokey” aproach to F1 left Williams stuffed in the mid/late 80s. (Remember the Williams-Judd) It left McLaren stuffed in the mid 90s (McLaren Peugeot ring any slightly cracked bells?). It was a disaster for the Brackley team.

    If I were talking to Honda the question I would want to answer is “How long would it be before they pulled out again ?”

    The other question is what other car makers might be ripe for a cope back. Ford? BMW? Would Toyota (also big in Hybrids) follow Honda back in ?

    1. Random 79 says:

      If Honda do make a successful comeback it might be a signal to the others that the time is right.

  64. Rich C says:

    Rather see Porsche or even BMW in there, myself.

  65. Random 79 says:

    Thanks for clearing up some of the rumours flying around. Should be interesting over the next couple of years :)

  66. Wade Parmino says:

    There is probably no working prototype but I do think there has to be a couple of Japanese Honda engineers who are also F1 enthusiasts. They have probably taken a look at the new technical regulations and drawn up a theoretical design for a new Honda F1 engine, in the hope of Honda re-entering the competition. I certainly hope so.

    Japan has a rich history of involvement in Formula 1 but at the moment, with Kobayashi gone, Japan has no presence at all in F1, with either a team, engine supplier or driver.

    1. iceman says:

      Given that they set up an entire F1 team that never turned a wheel in 2000, I think it’s entirely possible they have F1 engine designs that have not yet seen the light of day.

      1. There is also an engine supply company called PURE that ran out of money and ceased operations late last year…maybe Honda bought the intellectual property for the PURE design?

  67. athlon says:

    James, your collegue, Jonathan Noble wrote in his article on a very renowned F1-site that Honda is set to return to F1 as early as in 2014 with another team. What do you think which team can be this?

    1. James Allen says:

      Marussia? They have links with McLaren, no engine for next year and limited budget.

      Would throw them a life line maybe?

      1. James Allen says:

        I still think it makes more sense to enter in 2015 for the reasons in the post

      2. Yak says:

        That said, assuming Honda are in a position to be able to do it, could a Marussia-Honda partnership for 2014 be a good way of getting the engines out there and running on track? That is, as opposed to waiting ’til 2015 and throwing ‘em straight into the cars of a front running team. Effectively a full season of proper on track testing of the engine package in preparation for it going in the McLarens. As we see every pre-season test, it’s one thing to test things in the wind tunnel, on the dyno, in digital simulations, etc., but actually getting out on track for real can be a different story. Surely a whole season of running in the Marussia could be a valuable thing for both Honda and McLaren.

        And that way they’d already be starting to cover some of the development cost, not to mention when McLaren adopt the engine in 2015, there’s then two teams on the Honda roster. Aside from the cost benefit, the more cars running your engine, the more data you’re gathering on it.

      3. athlon says:

        I see. What about Williams? As far as I know, their partnership with Renault ends at the end of the current season. Switching to Honda would mean a slight risk for them, but they could win a lot with the Japanese engines.

      4. Random 79 says:

        Not disagreeing with you, but they should be able to win a lot with the Renault engines too – Red Bull seem to manage okay :)

    2. Dren says:

      Honda returning in 2015 makes sense in the post. It would be best for Honda, but I’m sure Mclaren are pushing them to enter in 2014.

  68. tim says:

    Would Honda be ahead of the game because they’re already manufacturing a V6 turbo for Indy Cars?

    1. Sebee says:

      tim, you shame me! How could I forget this! Indeed, the spec is different, but experience is there.

      Your reminder of the IndyCar engines makes me belive that indeed Honda want back in F1.

    2. Stone the crows says:

      It means they have a working engine department and are not starting from scratch. Though the architecture of the Indy car engine is much different than an F-1 engine.

  69. Quercus says:

    According to another website (BBC), “the engine manufacturer has decided to return because of next year’s introduction of turbo engines featuring energy recovery technology”. This makes a lot of sense for Honda and I think it’s highly likely that what they learn in the heat of F1 competition will play big dividends in their road cars.

  70. Gord says:

    It would be quite ironic because Honda replace Mercedes as engine suppliers for McLaren and Mercedes now run the team that Honda used to run.

  71. Antonis Papadakis says:

    one thing you are wrong about is that Honda is not so wellknown.If you talk about motorbikes then Honda is the first think that comes up.Also keep in mind that Motorbikes audience is much younger and far more passionate.

    1. James Clayton says:

      But we’re not talking about motorbikes…

  72. Danny Almonte says:

    The Honda engine failed to impress in recent memory. It was rumored to be too heavy and thirsty. Honda should supply one of the smaller teams before trying to partner with McLaren. Honda are years away from having a race winning F1 engine.

  73. Kris says:

    Everything I have seen over the last couple of years leads me to think the McLaren-Mercedes split will hinder both more than it will help either.

    While unproven, it seems Red Bull are willing to find any means to go beyond the RRA, while Merc and McLaren seem to be forced to adhere and operate on smaller budgets. Mercedes seem to lack the skill on the racing operations and aerodynamic side, while McLaren seem to be lacking something that prevents them from keeping up with RBR.

    I get the impression that a world-beating Merc engine combined with a McLaren team able to focus on racing and building a winning chasis would be a much stronger prospect than either represents as an independent entity.

  74. Dren says:

    Let’s just hope that god awful earth dreams livery doesn’t return!

  75. Alex says:

    James,

    Do you have any idea of how well resourced McLaren are in terms of finances? This is considering that they’ve got to start paying for engines and keep up the design race with the likes of M-B and Red Bull with their deep pockets .

  76. . says:

    Only thing I remember Renault for is when the RBR mechanically failed and it usually had to do with Renault engine/components failing, so maybe they should work on that before expecting praise.

    I think RBR are winning championships not thanks to Renault, but in spite having Renault. Imagine the RBR having a Mercedes engine which is easily the best engine.

  77. forzaminardi says:

    McLaren-Honda is very much a dream ticket for me, one of the classic F1 brand combinations. As for Honda themselves, pretty mundane range of road cars since the S2000 and Type-R were axed, but always well engineered and signs are they’ve rediscovered their mojo of late. Fingers crossed this comes to fruition.

  78. theep says:

    Honda are an engine company first and foremost. Cars, motorcycles, boats, lawnmowers and even aircraft are just vehicles to allow them to sell more engines. If they return to F1 as engine suppliers then I have no doubt they will be successful and it will be good to see them back.

  79. Gazz says:

    Tim, this is something that many seem to have forgotten. Honda have been involved in V6 Turbo production for a number of years already and this probably puts them ahead of the game. Honda also had a great admiration for Jenson and I beleive they would love to be back in partnership with him and McLaren.

  80. Lance Manion says:

    Yes, it does make sense. Both have sported the most garish livery in the pit lane this past decade.

  81. Feral says:

    Honda will be back to compete against Redbull – Renault/Nissan/INFINITI V6 and Honda will be looking for customers to put the next young Japanese star driver in :)

  82. Doohan says:

    Would love to see Honda come back into the sport. But certainly the seemingly small car market cars like Citroen, VW and the like would relish in the new age of engines from 2014 onwards. From what I gather is their preferred engine size and marketing approach.
    Fuel economy and new technologies.

  83. Carl Craven says:

    I like this and especially because of this

    “This would leave Mercedes supplying its engine to McLaren in 2014, knowing that Honda engineers would be crawling all over it from later this year onwards.

    They would be very uncomfortable about that.”

    Mercedes pillaging of Mclaren is ridiculous. Mclaren develop talent, they developed Lewis, they developed Lowe etc, Mercedes are just trying to buy success to improve their brand. [mod]

    1. aveli says:

      mercedes invented the car.

      1. Carl Craven says:

        that’s a meaningless statement in the scheme of things. It doesn’t mean Mercedes are responsible for nurturing the talents they are stealing from other teams.

  84. Carlo_Carrera says:

    McLaren keeps saying they want to be the “British Ferrari”. To be that they need to have there own engines in their F1 cars and their road cars.

    Anything less than that is not good enough.

    Them running Hinda engines in their F1 cars is admitting defeat.

  85. JohnBt says:

    I’ve been watching the races during the McLaren Honda era. Speed was awesome except for the turbo sound which really does not impress me at all after all these years. Am still in favour of the present V8 cutting edge grind, can’t help it. Well.

  86. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    To me this makes very little sense other than from a cost perspective.

    F1 is being divided into various loyalty camps by engine manufacturer. Renault, Mercedes and Ferrari are able to spread their costs across multiple teams as well as gain valuable engineering data by having say 6-8 cars every race. By signing up to a Honda engine, McLaren would be exposed to a manufacturer that has been out of the sport for the past 7 odd years. Thats a long time in the sport. Its last engine program wasn’t exactly encouraging either.

    So in summary, it would be allied to a manufacturer that has no other teams in which to spread development costs, only has information from 2 cars each race, has no recent experience in the sport and a clean sheet untested design. Unless El-Ron is getting these engines for free (a strong reason), to me the team is losing out on all other fronts.

    Perhaps the team is prepared to take this risk with the view to gaining independence from the other manufacturers and to make up any power deficiency in the wind tunnel. However, the sport has not been kind to these sorts of all-or-nothing strategies! There is a reason why teams choose tried and tested packages, especially when hundreds of millions are being spent annually.

    1. Sebee says:

      Suddenly Lewis jumping ship makes sense. Doesn’t it?

  87. Craig in Manila says:

    Ok.

    So Honda have 2013 to design and build an engine and get it put into the Marussia for 2014.

    They then have 2014 to develop it before 2015 when McLaren Honda F1 re-emerges and Marussia is bought-out by Honda and becomes Honda F1 Team with, wait for it, Ross Brawn in charge.

    Sounds like a decent plan to me.

    If Marussia announces a Japanese test/reserve driver, then we’ll know for sure that something is afoot !

    1. aveli says:

      can honda not design. build and develop the f1 v6 turbo engines in the same time frame as renault and mercedes have done?

    2. Sebee says:

      I don’t think that would happen. Honda may enter with a few teams, but not with Marussia alone. There wilk be a flagship team when they enter.

  88. Anton says:

    Don’t they already build their own engines for the road car?

  89. Elie says:

    When Mercedes entered as a team it surely signaled the beginning of the end for the Merc-Mac relationship. I agree that if Mclaren want to grow -both in F1 and in road cars- they need to build their own engines. Definitely merging with Cosworth should be a consideration.

    I’m really surprised that Porsche is not considering F1 as engine supplier. (maybe it still is). I cannot think of a better V6 turbo builder than them. VTG- Variable Turbine Geometry- was a genius development by them. They have also invested in hybrid /ers for the new car projects (918 springs to mind). I’m sure their stretched rather thin with GT, Sports car development programes. When F1 looks at reducing costs-beyond 2015 it might be a good time to join and as you mention James they will have a handle on how the others look by then.

    I also believe Honda will need time to be competitive as a supplier. Renault, Mercedes and Ferrari have over a year head start and many millions of euros already invested. 2015 for any new engine supplier makes perfect sense from here on in.

  90. Jon says:

    Mclaren/Honda would bring back so many memories, fanastic, but im sorry, they really need a top flight driver in there (Yes, IMO Jensen is not) they remind me of Williams now that Lewis is gone.

  91. Stone the crows says:

    Thanks for a great report James. Before Honda left Formula one they had a good engine, a bit heavy in comparison to it’s contemporaries, but still pretty good. As someone else posted here, they’ve been supplying engines to Indy car for years and switched to providing turbo V6′s last year, so they have an experienced engine department. This would be a very advantageous arrangement for Mclaren, in that they will be able to work with the Mercedes V6, which will undoubtedly be very good, and with that knowlege be able to have Honda build an engine for them that will suit them perfectly.

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      The Honda V8 was probably the worst on the grid when they left the sport, but I think thats the only time in their involvment with F1 that thats been the case, the V10 , the turbo’s and even the 60′s engines were all considerd very strong.

      As for the IndyCar engine, that comes from Honda Performance Development in the US, whereas the F1 engine is likely to come from a Japanese base so I doubt there will be too much crossover in engineers.

      1. Honda in the past has tended to quit F1 when they have a poor powerplant relative to the competition. They left after 1992 when they had a heavy and not particularly competitive V12, and again after 2008 when their V8 was, by all accounts, 40-50 bhp down on the competition.

      2. Rich C says:

        “…the IndyCar engine, that comes from Honda Performance Development in the US, whereas the F1 engine is likely to come from a Japanese base…”

        Why would you think that?
        If you have a facility thay already builds turbo V6 racing engine why would you start from scratch someplace else?

      3. Andrew Carter says:

        Because in all likelyhood the HPD facility is running at near capacity with its LMP and IndyCar projects. There’s also not likely to be much crossover between the two turbo plants.

      4. coefficientf1 says:

        F1 and Le Mans will have common eengine specs for petrol motors from 2015 so there is synergy there.

        Have you ever seen the Honda Advanced Research place? It’s the size of Manchester. I woudln’t be surprised if they had a team of people working on it since the 2014 rules were announced just in case they decided to come back. Now they will just put more people on it and ramp it up fully.

        Also, there is a contributor to the F1Technical site that claims Honda already has engineers in situ at Woking and with the rumours of the Honda/Mclaren reunion emerging 12 months ago that probably means it had been planned well before. There’s no smoke without fire as they say.

  92. Sensei.gt says:

    Honda have a great base to work from, their 1.5 liter turbos dominated with McLaren in 1988. Their engineers would not have to “crawl” all over the Mercedes engine, plus they can’t, the engines are sealed. However, McLaren can get HP readings from their dynometers, the weight of the engine, it’s dimensions, mount points etc., and give the data to Honda. Honda would then have benchmarks to work with. As for a second team, Williams would be great, though I doubt that would happen. Lotus would be a good option as well!

    1. coefficientf1 says:

      The engines are sealed? Give me a break! All teams keep hold of their engines for a good long while you know. The rule is that they are returned to the manufacturer but Mclaren have a running example of each of its cars with their original engines.That’s because at least one or 2 examples of each engine remains with the team. Mclaren will apparently receive the dimensions and installation requirements for the new Mercedes engine in April as will Force India. They will also receive a mock up of it for offering up purposes. All this data will be retained by the team but it won’t be forgotten by them once the switch supplier.

  93. Feral says:

    Thanks James for the best F1 site with in house rumours and factual info.
    a place where true F1 fans can comment and give their thoughts…likes/dislikes and what matters to them…(knowing you are respected by those who make up the FI paddock I’m sure all the teams read and post under alias :)

    More engine manufactures can only add more variety and hopeful reliability.

    For my part I think it’s time for McLaren to make it’s own engines or buy out cosworth, to take the next step in a great company/team to really compete with Ferrari both with road cars and F1.
    Williams need a good long term proven engine contract and some good drivers to get back where they belong.
    I like what I see at Lotus but time will tell there…maybe Melbourne will show us more.
    RedBull keep doing what you are doing, it works :)

    PS: James keep your contract with 10/HD1 love your reports :)

    Feral

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s renewed. Looking forward to working with 10 again this season, lots of cool stuff planned for Melbourne

  94. Random 79 says:

    Here’s something I want to run by you guys – but fair warning, it might be complete rubbish.

    Right now teams are restricted to eight engine for the season – that makes sense in regards to cost cutting. Less engines, less cost. Simple :)

    But next year we have a new engine that has cost millions to develop, and so the cost of the engines (or power units as they will be called) will go up dramatically.

    Some teams will change suppliers next season, but for the sake of argument let’s assume everyone is staying with their current supplier:
    Not including themselves (and I assume RBR as a de facto works team), Renault supply three teams, while Ferrari and Mercedes each supply two teams.

    Teams will be restricted to five engines for the season. That means that (with no failures) in 2014 Renault will sell 15 engines, while Ferrari and Mercedes will each sell 10 engines.

    BUT…what if there were no restrictions on engine usage? Then Renault would sell 60 engines over 20 races, while Farrari and Mercedes would sell 40 engines.

    That would seem like a massive cost, but as I see it it’s the same as any new technology; initial costs are high, but the quicker more units are sold the quicker costs come down.

    By selling 4x as many engines they could recoup their development costs much faster and so actually sell the individual engines much cheaper than they might do in 2014, and in the end the costs would come down much more quickly to the current V8 costs.

    As I said, that might well be a load of rubbish (and feel free to tell me so :)), but it was just a thought.

    1. aveli says:

      they are in f1 to advertise their engines by winning races and not to make money directly from selling race engines to f1 teams.

    2. Feral says:

      I believe Manufactures of engines or parts should be encourage to sell their wares to other teams specially the smaller teams to cut cost and it would speed up the development of the parts/ideas etc…(maybe giving the manufacture say 1 point to add to their tally (of the constructors title) if that car wins)…just my thoughts.

      Feral

    3. ashboy says:

      It doesnt work. you are still selling the development cost to the same people. so if you sold 1 engine or 100 to a team the development cost would cost the team the same. but the team has still to buy 4x as many pistons ect. so the cost would be higer.

      Example 5 engines per season =£15mill
      Development cost £5mill
      5 Units cost £10mill

      to supply 10units
      Development cost £5mill
      10 units cost £20mill = £25mill £10 mill extra.

      I no that is all simple maths and might not be correct figures, its just an example of how it would work.

      1. Random 79 says:

        For sure it wouldn’t work in the real world, but it was just a hypothetical. My thinking was short term loss for greater mid to long term gain…maybe.

    4. Sebee says:

      You think those mid and back end teams have money for this plan?

      1. Random 79 says:

        Not sure they have money for the new engines period to be honest, but I do see your point.

  95. aveli says:

    hello james, i think you’re spot on on this as always. from nikki lauder,s comments on video about the lowe story suggests things are not button (smooth) between mclaren and mercedes.
    i also suspect honda regretted not taking part in the 2009 season.
    returning with mclaren would be advantageous to them because mclaren has the c12 and p1 from which they could learn how to make better sports cars.

  96. Kenneth M'Boy says:

    With all the poaching between McLaren and Mercedes will we start seeing rumours of Ross Brawn to McLaren Honda? I would love to see Ross in a partnership with Honda which we were denied in 2009. Or are there certain egos too big now to allow this to happen, ie Ross vs Ron and Martin?

  97. Bernt Rubha says:

    Perfectly logical.

    In order to spread the cost amongst purchasers there could be twenty teams on the grid running three cars each.

    1. Bernt Rubha says:

      Addendum – In answer to #94

    2. Random 79 says:

      I think a sixty car F1 field would be great, but since Bernie can’t even tolerate eleven teams with two cars each I’m not getting my hopes up :)

      1. Anon says:

        Not enough people willing to field an F1 team which costs 100s of millions of pounds to run every year, plus coverage would be diluted between the cars so the sponsors wouldn’t be so willing to invest. If the F1 fan base was 3 times bigger then maybe.

  98. Darren says:

    I don’t really get a lot of peoples comments regarding “company x makes V6s week in week out so therefore they will make a better v6 F1 engine”.

    Racing engines are a whole different ball game to production motors. There is the argument that technology developed on the track finds its way back to road cars, that is true for some things. VW/Audi have a lot of technology in their engines developed at Le Mans and Ferrari have some very clever electronic systems in their cars developed in F1.

    This does not and will not happen the other way round though. Back in the 60s/70s and maybe even 80s engines may have been based on production blocks but now a days the engine is so specialised I doubt this is possible. I doubt even the companies that had experience of making V6 turbos in F1 before (Ferrari, Honda, Renault) will have an advantage such is the advancement in technology.

    The company that builds the best engine will be the one that hires the best engineers and the one that interprets the rules to their benefit in a way that none of the others do.

    I just hope that continued engine development is allowed, I am looking forward to the engine being a key performance differentiator as it should be.

    As an aside for anyone that’s interested I was watching a very interesting clip by Koenigsegg the other day about an engine they are working on with fully hydraulic valves, that is no cam shaft at all and infinitely variable valve timing.

  99. Rich C says:

    BTW, if we’re gonna be stuck with a spec engine, why not just have one engine from Ilmor and re-badge them for each “manufacturer?”

    1. coefficientf1 says:

      2 words, Corporate Pride.

  100. Honda does make sense in general – but much the same as any other marque (esp from the VW range)

    Honda does not make sense however if the engine is not as good as the Mercedes. Even if the Mercedes engine does not fit the car perfectly, it would be a courageous choice to move away from one of the best to an also ran (especially when engine performance is going to be a big differentiator next year)

  101. Dave Walker says:

    Yes, finally an excuse to go back to the classic white and red colour scheme!

  102. Jon Wilde says:

    2014 – Emirates Mclaren Honda.

  103. Naren says:

    James,

    I have two questions

    1)Is the Mercedes McLaren contract regarding Engine supplies so water tight for 2014 & 2015 as per contractual obligations, that Mercedes should supply the Engine that they are using in their own F1 program. Or if Mercedes can supply a B specification engine to McLaren to avoid the technology going to Honda.

    2)Are Honda reliable engine suppliers as others are over the past years. Once thay have lost the Podium chances they have retracted from F1. Will McLaren be worried about this on along term.

  104. Carlos Silva says:

    Mr. James:

    I am from Brazil and I am very happy with this article. Remenber the brazilian pilot Ayrton Senna with a powerful Mclaren-Honda? Brazilian people love the Japanese automaker. Honda Fit, Civic, City, Crv and Accord are popular in my country. Honda has a very great technology. Sorry for may poor English.

    Please, read this article from Japanese Asahi Shimbum:
    http://ajw.asahi.com/article/economy/business/AJ201303180080

  105. Monza 71 says:

    I doubt Honda will want or need any IP from Mercedes, after all, they have plenty of experience in building race winning engines.

    What they will get is enough information from McLaren to be able to calculate the exact torque and power curves of the Mercedes engine and to then extrapolate the approximate graphs for the other 2015 engines. In other words, they will know exactly what they have to aim to achieve to beat their rivals and will have plenty of time to complete development and testing of their power unit.

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  108. Snide says:

    But still, have mclaren won anything the latest seasons? or do they become favourites now? I dont think so, there is much work that needs to be done even though its a great partnership they are making

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