MARCH 29, 1999
AS we reported after the Australian Grand Prix, Honda is now in the final stages of deciding on whether to push ahead with its $1bn five-year plan to run its own F1 team. The pitch for a $200m a year budget was made at a meeting on March 18, although the company is refusing to give any details of funding, and a decision is now awaited from Japan. If the budget is agreed it will dwarf the investment made in recent years by the top F1 teams which have budgets of around $100-150m for chassis and engines.
There are, not surprisingly, some within the Honda empire who think that the money could be better spent on other projects to continue the company's development, but as competition has been central to Honda policy since the company was founded 50 years ago, it is expected that the program will go ahead with a new factory being built in the Bracknell area. We understand that a site for the new factory is under consideration but awaiting the final go-ahead from Japan.
The current Honda F1 testing operation employs around 120 people and is pushing ahead with the next test planned at Barcelona between April 12-14. The team has not be seen in general testing in recent weeks but did three days of aerodynamic mapping work recently at Lurcy-Levis with Jos Verstappen at the wheel.
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