Honda wants 'good drivers, good team and good organisation' for 2015 McLaren return
Motorsport chief also says Brawn link is news to him
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 10/10/13 8:15am
Honda says it hasn't yet considered who it wants to see driving for McLaren when the two reunite in 2015, but made clear its intent on making a winning return to Formula 1.
Confirmation that the iconic, and dominant, title-winning McLaren-Honda partnership of the late 1980s and early 1990s would reform from the season after next was delivered in May, with the Japanese firm having been enticed back to the sport by the impending advent of more efficient, turbo engines.
Although McLaren's long-term future as a works engine team is now secure, the identity of their drivers into the 2015 Honda era remains unknown with incumbents Jenson Button and Sergio Perez yet to even be officially confirmed for next season, although the former's one-year extension has been sealed.
McLaren chief Martin Whitmarsh stirred the 'silly season' market at last month's Singapore GP by suggesting he would be open to bringing Ferrari star Fernando Alonso back to Woking should the Spaniard become available, a story that continued to rumble on in Korea.
Honda's glorious first period as engine supplier to McLaren included two seasons when the team paired both Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in their line-up and Honda motorsport boss Yasuhisa Arai admits having strong drivers again will be a key element in hitting the ground running.
"Of course in the 1980s we had a splendid time with McLaren with Senna and Prost as very good drivers. It was a wonderful time," Arari told Sky Sports News in Japan ahead of the country's race this weekend.
"However, at the moment we are completely undecided of anything about drivers and what we should do now is to have good drivers, [a] good team and good organisation.
"Those things have to be ready, has to be right, in order to have a good start."
Although Honda last built F1 engines, albeit to the current V8 specifications, when in the guise of a team owner in 2008, and rivals will have had a year's head start with racing their all-new power packages, Arari made clear it was targeting instant success.
"We decided to participate again from 2015, that's means we are committed fully to get wins. That is the very target from the very first year," he insisted.
Honda has been linked with a move to hire current Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn to head up its engine project, who headed up the final year of its works operation five years ago and then took on the Brackley team when the Japanese firm abruptly withdrew from F1.
Mercedes took to Twitter on Monday to deny reports emanating from Germany that Brawn had informed the team over the Korean GP weekend of his intention to quit at the end of the season. From Honda's side, Arari has now admitted he hadn't even heard the speculation that Brawn was on the company's radar.
"I've never heard of that and it is a surprise! I don't think it will happen," he added.