MONZA, Italy -- The Japanese car manufacturer Honda is pulling out of Formula 1 racing at the end of the current season, the company announced Friday.
Honda officials in Monza for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix, confirmed the decision 'to suspend Formula 1 racing activities after this season' was announced in Tokyo by Honda President Nobuhiko Kawamoto.
Honda's withdrawal, which had been widely predicted, meant the British McLaren-Honda team, which currently stands third behind Williams-Renault and Benetton-Ford in the 1992 Constructors' Championship, will have to look for a new engine for next season.
Honda first competed in Formula 1 racing with its own car in 1965-68 when it took part in 35 Grand Prix events and won two races.
From the end of 1968 until 1983 Honda stayed out of Formula 1 racing, but in July, 1983 it returned by providing Honda engines, first for Williams and then for McLaren.
Since then Honda-powered cars have won six Constructors Championships, two with Williams in 1986 and 1987 and four with McLaren in 1988-1991. Its drivers have won five world driving championships -- Brazilian Nelson Piquet in 1987, Frenchman Alain Prost in 1989 and Brazil's Ayrton Senna in 1998, 1990 and 1991.
Honda officials quoted Kawamoto as saying, 'Suspension means there is a possibility we will return to F-1 racing at some future date.
'The most positive impact over the last decade has been that the intensive challenges of F-1 competition have helped to train many engineers, who are essential in developing our products. Having achieved our goal over a decade, we have decided to suspend our F-1 racing activities.'
A statement issued by McLaren officials in Monza said, 'McLaren International fully respects the decision of the Honda motor company and both companies will continue to develop the MP4/7 and V12 engine package throughout the remainder of the 1992 season.
'The suspension of the partnership will not impact upon the high level of mutual respect that has developed during the term of the relationship and both companies look forward to other opportunities to work together again in the future.'