For long-time Formula One fans, the combination of McLaren and Honda will bring back fond memories of the epic battles shared by Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. Although they were teammates, their great rivalry created some of the best racing F1 has ever seen, and a golden era for McLaren. Now the McLaren-Honda combination is back, with McLaren's 2015 chassis to be powered by Honda's RA615H power unit.
The car that Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button will pilot in 2015 is called the MP4-30. McLaren says that "relatively stable regulations" after the massive technical changes in 2014 has allowed it to evolve the car that finished off last year's season. The MP4-30's carbon-composite body features "slimmed rear-end packaging" and a revised nose, while underneath there's a brand new powertrain setup.
That brand new powertrain will be up against units from Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes on the grid. Mercedes dominated last season with an ingenious solution to turbo packaging that allowed for a narrower rear end, better weight distribution and more efficient engine cooling, so it will be interesting to see how the MP4-30 stacks up.
As-per F1 regulations, Honda's RA615H combines a turbocharged 1.6-liter V6 engine, rev limited to 15,000 rpm. Maximum fuel flow is limited to 100kg/hour, a rule that caught Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo out in last year's season-opening Melbourne GP, while cars are only allowed 100 kg of fuel per-race, making economy a key (often race-deciding) factor.
After a win-less season and disappointing 5th place in the 2014 Constructors' Championship, McLaren will be hoping for a far stronger showing in the 2015 season.
Ron Dennis, McLaren's Chairman and CEO, is confident that the new partnership will allow both brands to get back to "winning Grands Prix and eventually World Championships as McLaren-Honda."
"We've come a long way already and, although there's lots of work to do before we can enjoy the level of success we enjoyed together 25-or-so years ago, it's already clear there's enormous synergy and potential in our partnership," he said.
The world's F1 fans will be hoping Ron is right. Mercedes turned much of 2014 into a procession, only broken by a smattering of wins for Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo. If McLaren can consistently provide a fast car for Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso to challenge with, Mercedes will have strong company at the front of the grid, hopefully allowing for closer racing than we saw last year.
F1 kicks off in March with the Australian GP in Melbourne.
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