JULY 10, 2000
The future of Mugen in Formula 1
MUGEN, the Honda Family-owned engine company which has close links with the Honda Motor Company, has been tuning Honda engines for competition and for high performance road cars since the early 1970s. It began to build its own engines for Honda in 1986 and built its first F1 engine in 1989. Mugen's active involvement in F1 began in 1991 when the company took over the development of the old Honda V10 engines for the Tyrrell team. In 1992 these were rebadged as Mugen MF351Hs and were used by the Footwork Arrows team. In 1994 the engines were switched to Team Lotus and a brand new ZA5C V10 was designed by Mugen, although with help from Honda F1 engineers. At the end of that year the engines were moved to Ligier and in Monaco in 1996 Olivier Panis gave the company its first F1 victory.
Ligier was taken over by Alain Prost and the team used Mugens until the current deal with Peugeot began in 1998 when the relationship between Mugen and Jordan began. This has resulted in three wins: the first for Damon Hill in Belgium that year and two for Heinz-Harald Frentzen in France and Italy in 1999.
The return of Honda in an official capacity has complicated matters as many of the Mugen F1 engineers have joined the Honda program but Jordan is about to unveil an all-new Mugen V10 in Austria. It was thought that this engine would be available to customers next year but no deal is yet in place and Mugen may have to withdraw from F1 as it does not have the money to supply engines free of charge.
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