Honda Motor Co. formally announced Thursday that it will return to Formula One in 2015 as an engine supplier to British team McLaren to revive their championship-winning partnership.
“We shall act as Maclaren-Honda” and are resolved to be “the No. 1, ” Honda President Takanobu Ito said as he made the announcement at the company headquarters in Tokyo.
The automaker pulled out of F1 after the 2008 season, ending an involvement that began in the 1960s, to cut costs during the economic downturn that ravaged Japanese exports to the United States and Europe. It sold the team to former principal Ross Brawn the next year.
A recent change in F1 rules promoting the use of environmentally friendlier turbo engines made the comeback decision easier because Honda can readily transfer the technology to its commercial vehicles.
The McLaren-Honda alliance ruled F1 from 1988 to 1991 with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at the wheel.
Honda started racing in F1 as a full-fledged team in 1964 and stayed until 1968. During that time it won two races.
Then, as an engine supplier to other teams, including McLaren, Williams and Lotus, it raced from 1983 to 1992 and won 69 races.
After an eight-year hiatus, Honda returned as an engine provider and then part owner of the BAR team from 2000 to 2005. In 2006 it took full control and renamed it Honda.