One of the major names in Formula One racing, Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co. has begun the development and design of engines for a possible return to the World Championship circuit in 2015, sources at Honda said.
Honda exited the sport in 2009 as a team owner during a global economic crisis. When asked about the possibility of re-entering the circuit at a news conference in February, Honda President Takanobu Ito said, “We are studying (the idea of returning to F1) as seriously as possible.”
Honda plans to strike a deal to supply British racing team McLaren with engines. If the agreement is reached, the McLaren-Honda name, which marked its golden era in F1 between 1988 and 1991, would return to the sport.
Mercedes-Benz currently supplies the McLaren team with engines, but the contract with the German automaker will expire in 2015.
A rule change is believed to be one of the major drivers behind Honda's decision to resume the development of F1 engines.
With eco-friendly turbo engines with smaller displacements spreading throughout Europe among daily-use vehicles, F1 has decided to change its regulations in 2014 to force all cars to be equipped with smaller 1,600cc V-6 turbo engines.
Competitive technology for F1 cars have created a unique design totally foreign to cars driven on the street. But the new engine regulations will enable technologies developed for F1 cars to be passed onto vehicles to be sold to the public.
Honda has already signed a consultation contract with a foreign engineer, but engines available for F1 racing are expected to be completed in 2015 at the earliest.
Honda has participated in the sport three times to date. Between 1986 and 1991, during its second stretch, cars equipped with Honda engines captured the Constructors Championship for six consecutive years.
But during its third period of participation between 2000 and 2008, the Honda team won only one race and withdrew from the sport following the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers.
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