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Honda was forced to quit Formula One in 2008 by the global economic downturn. Franck Robichon / EPA
Honda was forced to quit Formula One in 2008 by the global economic downturn. Franck Robichon / EPA

Formula One: Honda to partner with McLaren from 2015

The Japanese company will return to sport after five-year hiatus and will supply engines to the racing outfit.

Honda is to return to Formula One in 2015 after confirming a partnership with McLaren as engine supplier on Thursday.

Honda chief executive Takanobu Ito and McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh made the announcement in Tokyo.

The Japanese manufacturing giant quit the sport at the end of 2008 at the height of the global financial crisis.

But with F1 due for a major engine overhaul from next season when turbo-charged 1.6-litre V8 powerplants replace the current 2.4-litre V12 units, Honda has decided the time is right to make a comeback.

McLaren and Honda formed one of the most successful partnerships in F1 history from 1988 to 1992, winning 44 grands prix and eight world titles in such a short period of time.

It will bring to end McLaren's long-running engine deal with Mercedes that began in 1995, so far yielding 78 victories, one constructors' and three drivers' championships.

Although Honda had little success with their own team for three years after branching out from 2006-08, their return is seen as something of a coup for McLaren.

Whitmarsh said: "I am delighted to announce Honda and McLaren will soon begin a new chapter of our legendary Formula One partnership.

"It is a partnership synonymous with success. Together, in 1988, we created the most successful Formula One car of all time which was driven to victory 15 times out of 16 [grands prix] by Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

"McLaren and Honda are about to embark on a new and extremely exciting adventure together.

"For everyone who works for both companies, the weight of our past achievements lies heavily on our shoulders.

"But like McLaren, Honda is a company with motor racing in its blood and its the mark of ambition we both share that we want to re-create past glories and take McLaren-Honda back to the top.

"Together we'll form a lasting partnership to deliver success on the track, backed up by world-leading R&D and engineering intelligence."

Whitmarsh concedes the two companies have "embarked on a very demanding journey", but has no doubt it will ultimately again prove successful.

"Formula One is a hugely challenging sport and is becoming more competitive every year, but we're both totally committed to the success of our partnership and to our ultimate goal to win," added Whitmarsh.

"That commitment, combined with our world-beating engineering know-how, gives us the confidence we can overcome the challenges we face.

"Together, Honda and McLaren have a great legacy. We formed a uniquely successful partnership that took on and beat the world.

"As we look to the future, both Honda and McLaren are utterly committed to maintaining that legacy and being successful once more."

Jenson Button, who spent six years working with Honda cars or engines from 2003-2008, said: "I know exactly how passionate Honda is about motorsport, and Formula One in particular.

"I grew up watching McLaren-Honda Formula One cars racing and winning around the world they wrote their own glorious chapter of Formula One history.

"Even now, picturing those unmistakable red-and-white cars evokes vivid memories of some of the most dramatic and exciting motor racing the world has ever seen.

"McLaren-Honda: I know how much passion, success and pride are encapsulated within just those two words.

"That's why I'm so thrilled and excited about what's not only a fantastic opportunity for the team, but also a great development for Formula One fans and the sport as a whole."

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