After a 23-year parting of ways, McLaren has brought Honda back onto the grid for this season, and will be the only team running the Japanese automaker's brand-new RA615H turbocharged hybrid power unit. Both parties are undoubtedly hoping the rekindled partnership will bring them back to the winning days of the late Eighties when Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost memorably drove their equipment to four consecutive World Championships.
Largely an evolution of last season's Mercedes-powered MP4-29, the new chassis features a new front-end design to comply with the latest adjustment to the regulations from the FIA, and also incorporates a slimmer rear end built around the new Honda engine and gearbox. It also features a revised livery that adds more black to the red and silver color scheme, and does without a title partner for the time being, but includes the logos of sponsors Mobil1, SAP, TAG Heuer, Johnnie Walker, Hilton, CNN and KPMG, as well as that of Honda.
Though this season will likely be more of a transition and development year for McLaren and Honda, all eyes will surely be fixed on the team to see how the new MP4-30 will fare. Fortunately, they've lined up a compelling roster of drivers, lead by former World Champions Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.
McLaren-Honda – the name evokes stirring memories of the past; of Ayrton Senna battling Alain Prost for supremacy; of classic red and white machines dominating for season upon season; of an iconic team writing one of the defining chapters in the motor racing history books.
Reuniting such an illustrious partnership brings with it the heavy weight of expectation, but all at McLaren and Honda are working to write a fresh chapter in Formula 1, one that respectfully nods to the past, but boldly looks to the horizon.
Today's reveal of the new McLaren-Honda MP4-30 – McLaren's first Honda-powered car for 23 years – speaks volumes about the progressive nature of both companies. It is a thoroughly refined evolution of last year's McLaren, it is the only chassis on the grid to be fitted with Honda's RA615H Hybrid power unit, and it features an evolved colour scheme that firmly contextualises McLaren's brand in the 21st century.
MP4-30 – new technical DNA in the mix
In 2015 McLaren-Honda intends to maintain the momentum it achieved during the second half of 2014, when an intensive technical development programme for the MP4-29 allowed the team to establish a solid position within the chasing pack.
Relatively stable technical regulations between seasons have permitted our engineers to evolve some of the newer philosophies explored on last year's season-ending car while also adding some exciting new technical DNA into the mix.
Moreover, our restructured and strengthened engineering departments have gained the conviction to embark on a number of changes of direction. With that in mind, the MP4-30 has been developed to provide us with the most effective and practical base package. It is a foundation – offering up a number of new exploratory development paths for our engineers, aerodynamicists and drivers to pursue during the season, and on into next year.
The car has been aerodynamically developed over the winter, and the result is a pretty, elegant design with a refined nose-box solution, slimmed rear-end packaging – particularly around the gearbox – and the incorporation of an all-new power unit under its tightly contoured bodywork.
Honda: a truly bespoke engineering solution
The partnership with Honda is particularly exciting: to achieve success within the technical regulations requires a bespoke engineering solution that can be achieved only in collaboration with a works partner. Honda will provide the know-how, the expertise and the muscle to make rapid progress – and to keep pushing development, on all fronts, during the season. The partnership will be a work in progress, but it will only strengthen over time.
Achieving our ambitious targets will not happen immediately – winning in Formula 1 is a lengthy, iterative process, and one that will gather collective momentum from season to season – but, with the MP4-30 as a base, McLaren and Honda feel they are ready to make quick and efficient progress towards a successful future.
Partners new and old – a formula for success
The team's preparations for 2015 have drawn upon the considerable resources of ExxonMobil, who have been working with our new colleagues at Honda for two years on developing new technologies and formulations of Mobil 1 engine lubricants for the Honda V6 turbo. In turn, the team's technology partner, SAP, provides its secure HANA Enterprise Cloud solution which underpins the entire McLaren Group, strengthening and simplifying the way the team runs its data management and modelling.
There are significant milestones to commemorate in 2015: this year marks McLaren's 30th consecutive year of partnership with TAG Heuer, while both Johnnie Walker and Hilton Worldwide are celebrating 10 years with the team. Such long-standing relationships underline McLaren's ability to support and enhance any blue-chip brand's global marketing programme.
Joining us for 2015 are international news broadcaster CNN and professional services company KPMG, which have both formed important strategic alliances with the McLaren Technology Group. McLaren-Honda is also pleased to welcome back the global coffee brand Segafredo Zanetti, which first partnered the team during the original McLaren-Honda era.
Fernando Alonso will begin on-track testing of the new MP4-30 at Jerez de la Frontera on Sunday February 1st.
#14 Fernando Alonso
Age 33 (July 29 1981)
Grand prix starts 234
Titles 2 (2005, 2006)
Fastest laps 21
"Although the winter period is a time for rest and relaxation from racing, my motivation could not be stronger for the new season. I've done a lot of training during the winter break, to reach my peak physical fitness, and I've been working hard in preparation for this new era of McLaren-Honda. I've never felt better, or more ready for a new season.
"Of course, we're prepared for a steep learning curve, but it's clear to see that inside McLaren-Honda there's total commitment, and a real change in feeling, as we start this new partnership. We're all focused on the challenge ahead, and I feel extremely honoured to be part of a relationship that has shared so much history together. My aim is to help write a new chapter in the history of McLaren-Honda. We understand the effort and teamwork required to take McLaren-Honda back to where it should be, at the front of the grid, and all our energy as a team is focused on that goal.
"Our first target will be to learn the maximum from the car at the pre-season tests, understand the package, and extract as much performance as possible. That won't be easy or trouble-free, but we're ready for that. Why? Because our key focus will be on development. Historically, McLaren has already been characterised by its ability to bring updates to the car quickly, and develop a strong package. It's going to be a real privilege to be the first person to drive the new McLaren-Honda MP4-30 at Jerez, and I can't wait to begin what I'm certain will be a very exciting new chapter in my career. I'm as motivated now as I was when I was given my first opportunity at the wheel of an F1 car.
"Last but not least, I'm excited to be sitting alongside Jenson [Button], a great team-mate and a very experienced competitor. Together we'll push the team forward, to learn, to progress, and eventually to achieve the best possible results together. We are ready for the new era."
#22 Jenson Button
Age 35 (January 19 1980)
Grand prix starts 266
Titles 1 (2009)
Fastest laps 8
"The off-season has really brought about a sense of renewal coming into 2015 – continuing my relationship with McLaren, getting married, and now embarking on such an exciting chapter: McLaren's new partnership with Honda. I've trained hard over the winter, and I'm absolutely itching to get going in the new McLaren-Honda MP4-30.
"It's been interesting to spend time in the factory during the past few weeks: you can really sense a feeling of reignited optimism and positivity around the building. I've never seen such motivation amongst the guys – we're all massively keen to get going in Jerez and to work hard on developing our new car. But we're under no illusion that it will be easy – there's a huge challenge ahead of us to try to pull back the gap to our rivals, but we're certainly up for it. We ended last season with great momentum and clear progress, and I'm determined to carry that forward into 2015.
"I'm also looking forward to working with my new team-mate, Fernando [Alonso], and I'm confident that our joint experience on track will pay dividends in our development race to get our team back to the front of the grid. I'm hugely motivated to make more history in this new McLaren-Honda era."
Test and Reserve Driver
Age 22 (October 5 1992)
Grand Prix starts 19
Fastest laps 0
"Although, naturally, I was disappointed to not be selected for a McLaren-Honda race seat for 2015, I've put it behind me and I'm now fully focused on the year ahead.
"McLaren-Honda evokes so many great memories in race fans all over the world, and I'm really proud to be a part of this team at the restart of such an important and historic partnership. My new role as McLaren-Honda's test and reserve driver is a really important responsibility, and I'm determined to prove my abilities and show what I can do not only on track, but also behind the scenes in the simulator, analysing the data and giving valuable feedback to the engineers. Our fight back to the front of the grid is our main focus, so it's going to be down to me to work really hard to develop the MP4-30 and make a real difference to its performance in Fernando's and Jenson's hands.
"My aim is, of course, to return to a Formula 1 race seat as soon as possible, so I'll be giving it 100 per cent, both on track and off it, to build on my last year's experience, to show what I know I'm capable of, and to reward the McLaren-Honda team's faith in me by keeping me on board."
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Technology Group
"McLaren Technology Group is driven by the relentless pursuit of technological perfection, and, perhaps more than any other element of our portfolio, Formula 1, which is the remit and responsibility of McLaren Racing, and now McLaren-Honda, most famously epitomises that.
"McLaren-Honda is a partnership focused on performance, technology and innovation, and there's no better example of that than the results achieved in our first collaboration in the 1980s and 1990s. I was Team Principal all those years ago and, while I don't tend to like looking back to the past, our previous record of sustained success was certainly instrumental in creating the confidence to make the decision to partner with Honda again. Now, there's real hunger to demonstrate the capabilities of the huge talent pool we share between us, and I'm totally committed to driving progress and achieving further success.
"Although our renewed alliance began again many months ago, the launch of the McLaren-Honda MP4-30 marks the start of a lengthy journey. We've come a long way already and, although there's a lot of work to do before we can expect to repeat the level of success we enjoyed together 25-or-so years ago, it's already clear that there's enormous synergy and potential in our partnership, and I'm positive that, together, we'll get to where we want to be: winning Grands Prix and eventually World Championships as McLaren-Honda."
Racing Director, McLaren Racing
"The start of the 2015 season is actually the culmination of a period of great change, and change for the better, plus a huge amount of hard work from everyone in our team.
"It's almost a year since I arrived in Woking, and, together with Ron and Jonathan [Neale, Chief Operating Officer, McLaren Racing], began an extensive restructure within McLaren Racing. We're now seeing the benefits of that extensive restructure, and the result is a strengthened, skilled and efficient team, characterised by undimmed commitment from everyone throughout our organisation.
"For a team with such incredible heritage as McLaren, being able to build on our past successes is hugely important to us. It'll take time to attain the levels of success we aspire to, but you may rest assured that, in concert with Honda, we are totally focused on fulfilling the potential of our exciting new partnership.
"I firmly believe that our team is stronger than ever, and that it's in the best possible position to push the development of the MP4-30 forward. Progress is our purpose, and we've seen firm evidence of that from the very beginning of our renewed relationship. We acknowledge that our journey will require a huge amount of hard work, dedication and application from everyone involved, in both Woking and Sakura, but we're ready and committed to building on the foundations we've already established in order eventually to enjoy the results we crave.
"McLaren and Honda are completely integrated and united in our purpose, and we share a fantastic sense of optimism: that together, in time, we'll create another legacy of success."
Senior Managing Officer, Honda R&D Co Ltd; Chief Officer of Motorsport
"Today is obviously a very exciting day for me and for Honda. It's not every day that you're involved in a launch of a new Formula 1 car and a start-up of a new partnership.
"As you can see with the new MP4-30, we've dedicated ourselves as one team with McLaren to creating a new car that compromises on nothing – either power or aerodynamics.
"Yet, in the midst of the excitement, both myself and our engineers are 100 per cent focused in both Sakura and Milton Keynes to prepare for Jerez and beyond. We're confident that the technology is there, and I'm looking forward to see how it will perform.
"We're about to commence a long season, with numerous challenges, but Honda is determined to face them head-on. After all, we're here to drive Formula 1's technology forward and give our fans a thrilling ride."