Honda is targeting nothing other than victory as it prepares to return to formula one in 2015.
Every other engine supplier in F1 – Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault – subsidises the huge costs of producing a highly-sophisticated turbo V6 ‘power unit’ by also selling it to customers for millions of euros. Japanese manufacturer Honda, however, is focusing solely on its works deal with McLaren. “We are not thinking about that,” said Honda’s F1 chief Yasuhisa Arai when asked by Speed Week about potential plans for customers. “At the moment we want to concentrate only on our return (to F1) for the 2015 season.”
Honda’s most recent F1 foray was not successful, with the last ‘earth dreams’-liveried works car in 2008 devoid of sponsorship and ninth of the eleven teams. “You cannot compare,” Arai insists. “We are approaching very differently in 2015, starting with the fact that we will no longer make the car ourselves.”
When asked what the goal for 2015 is, he answered: “To win grands prix with McLaren. It is for this reason we decided to partner with McLaren. We want to make history.” Undoubtedly, Honda wants to revive its glory days as a works engine supplier, when it won numerous titles in the 80s and 90s, including the near-perfect 1988 season with McLaren. “We expect points in every race; we expect victories,” said Arai. He admitted the trigger for Honda’s decision to return was the new and cutting-edge ‘power unit’ rules, featuring a small turbo engine and energy recovery systems. “This is a huge challenge for the engineers and the way forward for the industry,” said Arai. “But this is not a one-way street — the formula one project will also benefit from our experience with hybrid technology in production models,” he explained.
Arai dismissed speculation McLaren will test early versions of the 2015 engine in a modified car, revealing that the new Honda will only run for the first time at Jerez next year. And finally, he was asked about the mild tone of F1’s new regulations. “Engine noise is not an issue for an engineer,” Arai smiled. “But if the fans want more noise, then we should not ignore them.”