Honda set to announce return to Formula 1

1990: Ayrton Senna of Brazil in action in his McLaren Honda during the Monaco Grand Prix
Ayrton Senna during the height of the McLaren-Honda partnership

Honda is shaping up to announce its return to Formula 1, a source close to the Japanese manufacturer said on Wednesday, and speculation that the partnership will be with McLaren.

We reported at the weekend that McLaren has let a deadline pass whereby it could have extended its customer deal with Mercedes beyond next season.

“That can only mean Honda in 2015,” said Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt.

It is reported Honda, having pulled out its works Formula 1 team at the end of 2008, will return as an engine supplier.

It will supply a ERS-powered turbo V6 to McLaren free of charge, and consider customer deals with teams like prospective partners Sauber and Lotus.

The Honda source on Wednesday told French news agency AFP that president Takanobu Ito is close to making the news official.

“Honda has not officially denied these reports,” said the unnamed source. “Please prepare yourself for the announcement.”

When asked specifically about the Honda rumours in Barcelona last weekend, McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh did not deny a deal is in the works.

“The discussions about 2015 are between myself and Mercedes and not for newspapers,” he told British broadcaster Sky.