We’ve been like little kids waiting for Christmas since we heard that McLaren and Honda were teaming up again in Formula One. And now they’ve unveiled a brilliant, red-tipped silver bullet that the ridiculously talented driver lineup of Fernando Alonso and Jensen Button, both former World Champions, will helm around the world’s racetracks during the 2015 F1 season.
McLaren-Honda was one of the most successful partnerships in Formula One history, with drivers Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost winning both the driver’s championship and constructor’s championship each year from 1988 to 1991 thanks in large part to Honda’s amazing engines1.
After a lackluster fifth place finish in 2014, McLaren dropped Mercedes as an engine supplier in favor of its long-lost flame. The result is the MP4-30, the only car on the grid to be fitted with Honda’s RA615H Hybrid Power Unit—basically a fancy name for a fancy engine. Like the engines used last season (as required by F1), Honda’s turbocharged 1.6-liter V6 will work with a pair of hybrid systems, one on the crankshaft for use during braking and one connected to the turbocharger to generate power when the driver isn’t on the throttle, to charge the car’s 50-pound lithium-ion battery. The result is an engine that has a little more in common with a standard road car, allowing F1 research and development efforts to maybe end up in your Honda Accord some day.
The look of the car—really the only thing we can talk about because we haven’t seen the thing actually run yet—is an evolution of what McLaren raced last year, with a sleeker front nose and a dashing red line around the nose and back to the driver’s mirrors. Perhaps a nod to new McLaren driver Fernando Alonso’s long history with Ferrari?
The partnership between the two companies is especially interesting because, at least for 2015, Honda is only working with McLaren. They will be able to exchange information and strategies without worrying about competitors learning what they’re up to. In contrast, last year, McLaren was using Mercedes engines and, with Mercedes having their own factory race team, there must have been more than a little consternation at McLaren over sharing technical information with their competitors. After all, Mercedes completely dominated the field in 2014.
Either way, we think the car looks phenomenal and can’t wait to see McLaren, Mercedes, and the rest of the field duking it out across 20 of the world’s best racetracks. The 2015 season opens in Melbourne, Australia on March 15.