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15 May 2013

This is the rumour that will not die, most likely because there is truth behind with an announcement imminent from the Japanese car manufacturer. I have touched on the return of Honda back in October last year: at which point I stated that in reality 2015 would be when we could first expect to see them back on the grid.

The sudden resurfacing of the Honda story is thanks in part to Michael Schmidt of AMUS who whilst at the Barcelona GP last weekend was told that McLaren have missed the deadline put in place by Mercedes to take up a new contract for 2015. When pressed by Ted Kravitz on the subject, Martin Whitmarsh didn't go as far to deny their position but neither did he pour scorn on it. Whitmarsh also stated during the weekend we may see a return to their racing heritage with Orange paint schemes adorning their cars.

So what does this mean for Formula One and McLaren?

Firstly we have to look at the new engine formula as being a costly exercise, both for the manufacturer and the teams buying their engines. Each manufacturer will have scaled their purchase prices against the initial and ongoing development and support costs, raising the cost compared to the current engines dramatically. Renault look like they will be charging their customers the most at around €20-22m and with no works team and the most teams to supply on the grid (Red Bull, Lotus, Williams, Caterham and Toro Rosso) I'd suggest this will gradually tumble as the years go by.
Mercedes will supply their works team FOC, whilst McLaren and Force India will pay around €15-17m during 2014 (although the latter will be higher as they are also purchasing a Mercedes gearbox/rear end in 2014 whereas this is currently supplied by McLaren)
Ferrari will supply their works team FOC, whilst Sauber and likely Marussia will pay around €15-16m which is a complete powertrain installation (gearbox and rear end)

So where do Honda fit in? Well McLaren were essentially the Mercedes works team until Mercedes bought the remnants of BrawnGP at the end of 09 and so didn't pay for their engines. This year the team have had to pay Mercedes for their engines and will need to do the same in 2014. I expect McLaren will once again become a works team to Honda in 2015 and the flagship for their V6 Turbo engine. This however is where it becomes a little more complex as due to the inordinate amount of money Honda lost when it exited the sport in 08/09 convincing the board to re-enter F1 would have been no mean feat. I don't believe with the costs involved in developing these new engines that Honda will simply be looking to supply McLaren gratis, this means Honda will be looking to sway other teams their way and cost is one way of doing this. I suspect their engine will cost somewhere in the region of €15-17m and put them on the radar of Lotus and Williams who aren't happy about the costs involved with the Renault engines.

Red Bull and by virtue of their association Toro Rosso, are looking to make theirselves the De facto Renault works teams. The title sponsorship of Infiniti Red Bull Racing also leads us back to this as I talked about here: whilst Caterham have aligned themselves with the French manufacturer with Charles Pic and their road car alliance on the Alpine project.

The reason I mention teams on the cusp of engine suppliers is that the rules make it very easy for teams to make a switch from one supplier to another, a move by the FIA to help bring in more manufacturers.

(5.3.5 The entire power unit (with the exception of the items listed in Article 5.3.8) must be installed between two vertical planes normal to the car centre line separated by 700mm or in a box 150mm long, 250mm wide and 800mm high which lies symmetrically about the car centre line immediately ahead of the front vertical plane.
5.3.6 Power unit mountings may only comprise six M12 studs for connection to the survival cell and six M12 studs for connection to the transmission.
The mounting faces of the studs for connection to the survival cell must lie on the forward of the two planes described in Article 5.3.5 and be located at Y215/Z15(2), Y340/Z260(2) and Y175/Z420(2).
The mounting faces of the studs for connection to the transmission must lie on one vertical plane normal to the car centre line and be located at Y100/Z15(2), Y150/Z140(2) and Y255/Z345(2).
The distance between the two planes is fixed at 500mm.
A tolerance of +/- 0.2mm will be permitted on all of the above dimensions.
No additional load path from the survival cell to the gearbox, with a connection to the power unit, is permitted.) - 2014 Regulations -

Whilst on the topic of Honda's return to the sport we cannot also rule out the possibility of Toyota making their way back into the sport. Honda's re-entry is as much about their road car range assimilating into turbo usage as it is their direct desire to be involved in Motorsport. Toyota may decide that another foray into F1 is possible with their fellow Japanese car maker involved as a show of will against them. We must also think that Toyota's LMP ambitions could be powered by the very same engine that they produce for use in F1. I see neither of these manufacturers wanting to return to the realm of team ownership but instead use F1 as a platform for showing off their engine talents and I say, yes please lets have some more diversity in F1 again....

I looked at the new V6 Turbo engines in more detail back in January: and is likely a topic I will revisit toward the end of this season.


I see a trend emerging in relation to me doing articles and then announcements being made the following day, Honda made the announcement today (16/05/13) that they will return to the the sport in 2015 as an Engine partner to McLaren

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  1. The highlights of this post being racing car manufacturing companies is what all this post is about.Great info for car racing lovers like me.Thanks.

    Carlos Kauffmann

  2. Honda engines are amazing. They have huge pick up with excellent horse power.


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