McLaren's Jonathan Neale has no doubts over Honda's likely competitiveness in 2015
Team chief also says team will split resource on 2014-2015 cars
By James Galloway @SkyGalloway. Last Updated: 16/05/13 12:15pm
McLaren's Jonathan Neale is confident Honda will produce a "massively competitive" engine on their return to F1 and the team will successfully manage the transition from Mercedes to the Japanese manufacturer.
Honda officially brought to an end months of speculation on Thursday when they confirmed they were returning to F1 from the season after next to revive their iconic partnership with McLaren, having been enticed by the sport's more technologically-advanced engine and energy recovery regulations which come into force from 2014.
The agreement means that McLaren will switch engine suppliers from Mercedes to Honda after just one season of F1's new turbocharged era, a potentially tricky situation to manage.
Speaking in an interview with Sky Sports News, Neale, while stressing the exciting nature of the switch, acknowledged that both McLaren and Honda had a lot of work ahead of them for 2015 but insisted they were both more than capable of making a success of things.
"I think both parties recognise that we've achieved a lot of success together but the opportunity with the new V6 technology, the pedigree that Honda have in engine design, turbocharger design and energy recovery systems, it's just a really exciting prospect - not just for us as McLaren, but for anybody who's a fan of Formula 1 or a customer or Honda," the McLaren Managing Director told Rachel Brookes.
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"There is no doubt that they will be massively competitive. Turbocharged engines in 1.6-litre category are something that is familiar to them.
"Obviously the new engine for 2014 in Formula 1 is a step and a big push, we don't underestimate for a minute the work that we have to do together to be ready for 2015 - that absolutely goes without saying - but we're very confident that together we can do that."
Asked if that meant they would have to split engine resource between the 2014 and 2015 cars, something McLaren does on the design front in any case, Neale replied: "We need to be splitting the resource to be able to do that. But we're capable of doing that."
Next season will mark McLaren's 20th - and now final - season in tandem with Mercedes power and Neale says the chance to reunite with Honda was too good a one to turn down.
"We've enjoyed a very long and fruitful relationship with Mercedes-Benz but the time has come for us to review the future," he added.
"There's an opportunity to get together with Honda, who are returning to the sport in 2015, and a chance to reignite that partnership. It's just such a great opportunity for us and we're really looking forward to it."