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Honda rule out customer teams for 2015
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Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  18 Apr 2014   |  2:57 pm GMT  |  62 comments

Honda’s motorsport chief Yasuhisa Arai has revealed that the Japanese company will only supply McLaren in 2015, ruling out the possibility of customer power units in the short term.

“For year 2015, McLaren is our only customer,” said Arai at the Chinese Grand Prix. “I don’t think about the future, because we want to concentrate on next season.

“Of course we want to have good results next season and see the results from other manufacturers. If teams want to use our engine or power unit, we can deliver after year 2016, but right now there are no plans.”

Honda will make its return to the grid next March after a six-season absence from Formula One and Arai said that the company’s return to a sport it left because of the effects of the 2008 global economic downturn was brought about by the introduction of the new engine rules that put the emphasis on efficiency.

“One of the major reasons for our decision was the new regulation introduced this year,” he said. “The green technologies in the new Formula One power unit, as well as the total energy management, are very challenging and significant. The new regulation encourages each power unit supplier to pursue ultimate combustion efficiency. Thus the challenge is to convert each unit of gasoline into energy and this is expected to be reflected in production models. That’s the reason why [Honda has returned].”

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62 Comments
  1. Scuderia McLaren says:

    Mistake. Honda should have never agreed to that.

    They should have tried to get two teams min. More mileage, more data, more process running variations on the power unit, better benchmarking abilities, etc, not to mention cost amortisation kicking in.

    All these factors moves things forward exponentially than just two cars running. I think actually McLaren are short sighted in this too, gaining a small win but really suffering from missing greater benefits of two teams improving things. Especially with test bans.

    Just look at Lotus and Red Bull jointly using their opportunities and resources to sort Renault out.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      On the other hand McLaren have secured a lot of financial investment as Honda will want to ensure they don’t look foolish – so any possible budget shortfall to Red Bull & Mercedes should be taken care of.

      Plus Honda aren’t working from scratch – however hard the Mercedes power train team try and shield their design ideas Honda will have numerous specs and design ideas to work from throughout this year.

      1. Rich C says:

        and it won’t be the first small, turbocharged v6 race engine they’ve ever built.

      2. Scuderia McLaren says:

        It wasn’t for Renault either. It’s the energy recovery systems that are new and difficult and no past success on turbos means anything here.

      3. Scuderia McLaren says:

        Good point. I see your perspective, but on balance the benefits early on would be multi team approach in my opinion. But if the exclusivity if one team = Honda giving over more bucks than yes, that’s a compromise McLaren should accept. Anyway, it is what it is. I hope they do well.

      4. AuraF1 says:

        Yeah it’s obviously a gamble either way. On one hand if Honda confidently show up with something head and shoulders above everyone, with their knowledge of hybrid systems and their dedicated, no budget limit to the design – mclaren could have a one off year of total dominance – of course as you say if they don’t they have less data to work with to rectify it.

    2. Grant H says:

      Good point

    3. neilmurg says:

      Look at Ferrari when they had effectively got a sole tyre supplier. It was more effective than trying to please too many customers

      1. Scuderia McLaren says:

        Only due to unlimited, week in week out, multi car testing.

        That’s not the case now. Testing is limited and two teams using their allocations on helping Honda would be ideal.

    4. Lee says:

      Yes very good post

  2. Alexander Supertramp says:

    “the challenge is to convert each unit of gasoline into energy and this is expected to be reflected in production models”

    For me, this reflects what a big part of F1 is about, i.e. cutting edge technology mixed with speed, giving us the fastest and most complex cars in the world. All the rest is just ‘noise’.

    The exclusive Honda deal is good news for Mclaren. Will Mclaren be Honda’s de facto works team? Also, is Honda building their PU in Europe? Mercedes made the most of having both the PU team and chassis team work within reasonable distance of each other.

    1. Jimbo says:

      I believe the Power Unit is being built at Honda’s new European racing operation based in Milton Keynes, so that’ll be handy for both them and Mclaren being not too far away from each other.

    2. KRB says:

      Honda’s setting up in Milton Keynes, no? And yes, McLaren will be their works team.

    3. KaRn- says:

      Yeah, from what I understand they are paying very little in the way for engines and are becoming the works team in the same way Red Bull are to Renault.
      As for the engine, they have had R&D in Japan for a while apparently but 2 months or so ago opened a place in the UK for the engines base in future.

    4. LT says:

      From what I’ve read, their PUs will be built in Japan and maintained in Milton Keynes between races. Can you confirm this James?

    5. Mr Ed says:

      It was stated by Mr Arai at the press conference that the Milton Keynes facility was for engine servicing and track side support and that it was still under construction, opening later this year.

  3. Elie says:

    Sounds like a very cautious “dipping of the big toe in the pond”.. Its seems the first time a manufacturer is entering F1 with the primary focus of developing for automotive..all the other usual purposes being secondary.
    Will we see Honda building engines for Mclarens MP4-12C & P1 in the future or can Mclaren take this opportunity to prepare itself for its own engine manufacturing & complete its manufacturing operations in the years ahead.
    For 2015 F1 -lets hope it is a competitive unit. !

    1. Iain:R8 says:

      @Elie re Honda & Engines for McL road cars

      http://tinyurl.com/lcs3ga8

      1. Elie says:

        Cheers for that

    2. Stephen says:

      From it’s very beginnings in F1, Honda’s participation has always been about “improving the breed”. Soichiro Honda’s vision was not about having a race team per se, but to become the best on the world stage. Many of their young engineers were trained in the F1 team so that they learned how to make a decision ‘on the spot” rather than the traditional Japanese way of seeking consensus

    3. David in Sydney says:

      I guess they still have nightmares about the billions of Yen they lost along with face last time after selling out to Brawn just when Brawn’s excellent leadership looked like it would give them their sought after Championship.

      BMW take note: time to return to F1 with a fancy turbo engine.

      1. Elie says:

        When I think V6 turbos – I always think Porsche & BMW before anything else..But i think the technology in their road cars is already that far advanced that F1 will be playing catch up these next 2 or so year.. Then perhaps after that if the rules are still focused and budgets come into play– we might see these great marques come back.. The “litmus test” is Honda ..

  4. Gaz Boy says:

    It’s not surprising that next season Honda will put their turbocharged eggs in McLaren’s (silver?) basket, but read between the lines, and I suspect Honda are open to customer deals for 2017 and beyond?
    The whole issue of Honda coming back to F1 with Macca also raises the question of IP (Intellectual Property) as of course Scuderia Woking are running the Merc V6 unit at the moment, so the Honda chappies could – could! – have a sneaky look at its secrets???
    It is a bit of a grey area if you ask me…..having said that, the same could be said for when personnel move teams and “accidentally” reveal “confidential” information.
    Paranoia? In F1? Well I’ll be damned!

    1. Richard D says:

      They say 2016

      1. Mike Bowen says:

        The quote above says “after year 2016″ which would to me mean 2017. I was surprised at the 2 years alone with McLaren too.

      2. James Clayton says:

        For me it’s not clear. Could be a language issue.

        He could mean “After the year 2016 has started” (ie “from 2016), or he could indeed mean “after the 2016 season has finished”.

    2. AuraF1 says:

      Merc has already said they are taking precautions to stop the leak of IP to Honda but how protected can it be? McLaren pay for the PU and can build and strip down the car around them every race weekend. They have all the specs and can legally hand them to Honda. It’s not like stealing the design IP of a car you have no rights to – once you’ve paid for the engine you get to see it and can learn from it – you can’t legally force people to forget what they’ve seen.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        Indeed.
        Like I mentioned, IP is a bit of a grey area……

  5. Matt says:

    I’m not surprised that Honda would like to focus on two cars to maximize their power unit development. It makes a great deal of sense from a works point of view. It will be very exciting to watch as we will have Honda, Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari fighting for it next season.

  6. nealio says:

    Place another mark in the plus column for the new technical regulations.

  7. David Cooper says:

    “If teams want to use our engine or power unit, we can deliver after year 2016….” Interesting. Does that open the door to ‘mix & match’ in the future – having the engine/turbo supplied by one manufacturer, and the hybrid unit/energy recovery system supplied separately?

    1. Random 79 says:

      Doubtful.

      Firstly, all that (the engine, the turbo, the RES systems) is under the umbrella of “power unit”.

      Secondly, I doubt the different components from different manufacturers will fit together.

      But it would make things interesting…

  8. albert says:

    Is honda already under fia rules ? Or can they run as many engines in some car as they want ?
    When is their homologisation?

    1. Grant H says:

      Yeh this is interesting like you say, at the moment they are not part of F1 so does that mean behind close doors they can test on track

      1. Aaron says:

        Yes but they would have to use a chassis that is at least 2 years old.

    2. Rishi says:

      obviously their’s is in feb-march next year along with the others,just like this year. Not sure about the no. of engines though,i think they can’t run them on current cars anyway,so the number shouldn’t matter.

    3. Kramgp says:

      If the goal for f1 pu’s is ever more efficiency then why homogenize at all. Let them strive for ultimate performance and economy. It may even attract other engine suppliers to think we could that and better like Toyota or Dodge. (Ok not Dodge)

      1. GazC says:

        Dodge are part of FIAT-Chrysler, as are Ferrari… So they’re already there!

      2. Kramgp says:

        Yep every time I see that red Ferrari I think I must get that Dodge truck

      3. Darrin from Canada says:

        Dodge are owned by Chrysler which is owned by Fiat which owns Ferrari. Therefore by the trans mutative power of B*lls**t There already is a “Dodge” engine in F1…

  9. Quade says:

    No works team. Hmmmmmm!
    Maybe Honda has plans to return to F1 with their own car?

  10. Torchwood Five says:

    With the news that Honda are sponsoring a domestic Japanese racer in GP2 this year, if they are only supplying MacLaren next year, could they be intending this new fellow to occupy the second MacLaren seat?

  11. Paul says:

    James – do you think that other manufacturers who are pushing forwards with hybrid technology such as Toyota and BMW may be tempted to return in 2016+

    1. Paul says:

      As engine suppliers I mean not as a works team

    2. James Allen says:

      I don’t see those two coming back

  12. danny almonte says:

    Honda always blag on about bringing F1 tech to road cars. Nothing new. I’m sure Honda will do their own version of the Mercedes engine. I hope Cosworth makes a comeback as well. We need more competition in F1.

  13. Grant H says:

    I hope maccabring back the red and white livery

  14. Cheesypoof69 says:

    This sounds daft. Willingly supplying one team only for 2 years? This doesn’t bode well for competition or Mclaren. Obviously you learn more with more teams. Don’t understand how this makes any sense.

  15. Rich B says:

    had Honda already built their engine when Mercedes trick with the turbo (being split into 2 apparently creating a big advantage) was discovered or have they copied it?

  16. Ben says:

    James, how far are Honda with the development of the engine and hybrid systems? And there any chance that Honda might copy the Mercedes engine layout? In terms of them not having customers in 2015 it could all depend on how reliable the engine is out of the box and how well they get the hybrid systems intergrated

  17. franed says:

    Sorry to go off topic but James could you [lease have a word with the BBC chaps and tell them they have a failure of all online video clips across all platforms and all o/s. Everyone is getting “media selection request failed”
    I have emailed them but this needs immediate attention. Look at any tech media forum!

  18. Kirit says:

    Can’t fathom why Macca wouldn’t want to stay with a ‘peach’ of an engine with merc given how revolutionary it is compared to the competition. Would it be too late for Honda to copy a similar design to mercs’?

  19. franed says:

    A very cautious opening statement.
    He was a bit more forthcoming a the FIA Friday press conference and mentioned his new base at Milton Keynes

  20. Random 79 says:

    Should be February 2015 I think.

    Until then they should have a free rein.

  21. Sebee says:

    Browsed that FIA full decision document.

    1. How could RBR not challenge the technology or calibration? How can the thing drift by kilos/hr and not be3 questioned?

    2. Honestly, FIA can’t prove conclusively that RBR exceeded. Their offset seems to be calculated on a pre calibrated level that was drifting all over the place.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Apparently none of that matters – it was because RBR ignored the FIA’s orders that the ban was upheld.

      But it’s done now, so – in the nicest possible way – let it go.

  22. audifan says:

    milton keynes is the logical place for honda , they have mugen and the WTC team there

  23. Zio Buck says:

    Chinese GP: Fernando Alonso says Ferrari is closing in on Red Bull . Less of the chit chat let’s get it done .

  24. Kramgp says:

    Yep every time I see that red Ferrari I think I really should get that Dodge truck!

  25. Toleman fan says:

    James,

    In the past, Honda entered F1 in a quiet way with Spirit (V6 turbos) and BAR and Jordan (n/a V10s), before moving up to front rank teams when they’d got an engine they were confident in. They were quite ruthless about dropping teams they no longer needed (Spirit, Williams and Jordan at various times), but they started off out of the limelight a bit.

    Going all-in with Mclaren from day 1, with power units which are clearly a big technical challenge seems like a) a departure from the company’s MO and b) a pretty high risk move. Aren’t they going to be in a big hole if the engine isn’t competitive straight out of the box? And isn’t that a pretty big ask?

    Or do they have engines bench testing that make them think they can blow Merc away quite decisively?

    Any rumours or stories you can share at this point? Cheers.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes but they can learn a lot from this year’s issues for manufacturers.

      Eg the split turbo concept for Mercedes, which Mc.Laren know all about

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