McLaren and Honda getting back together?

The dream team from 1988-1992 could be reunited in 2015…

Ayrton Senna Monza 1988 McLaren Honda
© DPPI/Gilles Levent

Between 1988 and 1992, McLarens powered by Honda engines won four Drivers’ titles – three for Ayrton Senna and one for Alain Prost – and the same number of Constructors’ championships.

Now the latest rumour going around the F1 paddock is that Honda could be back in F1 by 2015 and looking to provide engines to the team again.

Speaking to Autosport magazine recently, McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh was non-committal about whether Mercedes-Benz would continue to provide the team’s engines beyond the 2014 season.

"We have a contract that covers the next three seasons at the moment and we will certainly go into next year [2014] with Mercedes-Benz,” said Whitmarsh.

"There is nothing to announce at the moment,” he added. “I can't elaborate any further.”

McLaren and Honda getting back together Mika Hakkinen 1999
Mercedes-Benz powered Mika Hakkinen to two titles© DPPI

Whitmarsh’s comments were analysed by Autosport’s F1 Editor Edd Straw, who was unconvinced that the McLaren/Mercedes-Benz partnership would exist beyond 2014.

“That he specifically confirmed next season, but dodged the issue of 2015 is telling,” said Straw.

“While the dotting of the i’s and the crossing of the t's might be incomplete, both McLaren and Honda plan to renew their partnership on track in 2015,” he added.

Should the rumour turn out to be true, it would bring to an end one of the most established manufacturer/engine supplier relationships in the modern Formula One era.

Following Honda’s withdrawal from the sport at the end of the 1992 season, McLaren languished for several years, using uncompetitive engines from Ford and Peugeot as the Renault-powered cars of Benetton and Williams drove off into the distance.

McLaren Mercedes SLR
McLaren and Mercedes worked together on the SLR© Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz had returned to Formula One as an engine supplier for Sauber in 1994, with McLaren opting to switch to Merc power a year later. Four seasons on, the partnership took its first drivers’ title with Mika Hakkinen, and claimed the Constructors’ title in the same year. Another drivers’ title followed a year later, with Lewis Hamilton adding a third in 2008.

The relationship has even continued onto the road, with McLaren and Mercedes-Benz having jointly developed the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren road car back in 2003.

But even though McLaren has seen its fair share of success using Mercedes-Benz power, there’s no doubt that a return to Honda engines, and the subsequent evocation of the Senna/Prost era, would make for a great story.