AUGUST 17, 1998
Honda delays F1 plans
THE principal players in the planned Honda Formula 1 team met for a massive 11 hours at Honda's Cricklade factory, near Swindon, England, in the days after the German GP, to make a final decision as to whether or not to go ahead with the plan to enter Grand Prix racing in 1999.
We understand that the meeting was attended by former Honda chairman Nobuhiko Kawamoto, Satoru Nakajima, Harvey Postlethwaite and Gianpaolo Dallara. The decision was finally taken to delay the project until the year 2000. The news was then delivered to F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone who has agreed to give the team an entry in the year 2000 despite the delay.
The Honda preparations - which would have been rather rushed if the project was to go ahead in 1999 - will continue but the delay means that several important members of the Tyrrell staff who remain under contract with the team until the end of the year will be able to join the program.
The original plan had been to produce a number of cars in November and test them using the current Mugen Honda V10 engine. A completely new Honda V10 is scheduled to arrive in January and a second series of cars had been planned to carry the new engine. These will now become the test cars for 1999 and, without the testing restrictions which are in force for existing F1 teams, the Honda team will be able to do many miles of running in order to iron out problems and get the team working correctly.
While the news is a disappointment for those involved, it is a much safer approach and Honda's low-key policy will not be greatly affected as a lot of attention in the year 2000 will be focussed on the arrival of BMW in F1 with Williams - particularly if the Germans adopt a high-profile media policy, which appears to be the case at the moment.
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