Ex F1 driver, Stefan Johansson says McLaren-Honda’s first golden era required five years of hard work before the duo became the powerful blend that dominated the late eighties and nineties.
Honda returning to F1 this season as engine partner for McLaren F1, many fans nostalgic feeling came to me as the McLaren and the Japanese engine manufacturer Honda latest partnership resulted in the sport one of the biggest success story of the eighties and nineties at the turn of years.
Surrounded by huge hype and interest of the two sides re-marriage accordingly, but we soon found out that even in 2015, certainly cannot expect similar results than two and a half decades ago.
“Everybody keeps talking about the “golden era” of the McLaren-Honda relationship when they basically cleaned up for a couple of years with Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna,” said Johansson in his latest blog interview.
“What people tend to forget is that relationship didn’t start until Honda had already spent five years in F1, developing their engines to what they finally became. The early days were no walk in the park. I know that very well as I drove the first car they entered in 1983 with Spirit and the scenario was not that much different than it is today.
“I used to joke at the time that I stopped doing all my physical training during the week because I got more than I needed on the race weekends with the engines blowing up in every session and I had to run back to the pits to get in the spare car to finish the session. Eventually they got it right of course, and then dominated before they decided to pull out.”
Johansson’s own F1 career spanned 11 years (1980-1991) and included spells at Shadow, Spirit, Tyrell, Toleman, Ferrari, McLaren, Ligier, Onyx, AGS, Footwork.