Honda aims to win fuel efficiency race in return to F-1

Sat Mar 15, 2014 8:32pm EDT
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By Norihiko Shirouzu and Yoko Kubota

SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) - After a seven-year hiatus, Honda Motor Co. is returning to the F-1 circuits next year, resolving to win more races - and learn how to build "greener" cars.

Honda is particularly aiming to turn exhaust gas that is mostly wasted in F-1 or conventional cars into energy. It is technology that Honda's F-1 chief, Yasuhisa Arai, says could give Honda an edge with its mass-market cars.

Cynics aren't buying the argument that Honda wants to use the F-1 as a technology incubator. They say Honda is trying to redeem its name after being a dud on the F-1 circuits from 2000 to 2008, when it quit the world's premier motor sport.

Arai doesn't necessarily disagree with that. He says Honda wants to be as successful as it was in the late 1980s when McLaren-Honda cars, driven by the late Brazilian triple champion Ayrton Senna and French four-time champ Alain Prost, dominated the sport. In 1988, Senna and Prost together won 15 of the 16 Grand Prix races.

"There's no point in racing unless you win," Arai said, strolling around a classic Honda F-1 car circa 1964 on display during a recent F-1 fan event at the Suzuka Circuit, 50 kms (30 miles) south of Nagoya in central Japan.

"That's why we teamed up with a winning team," Arai said referring to McLaren. Honda is set to supply engines starting in 2015 to McLaren, one of the most successful teams in F-1 history.


But Honda's return to Formula One is not just about the race, either.   Continued...

Yasuhisa Arai, Senior Managing Officer and Director, Chief Officer of Motorsports, Honda R&D Co. poses at the Honda Motor Co's headquarters in Tokyo February 27, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino