JULY 12, 2001
Is Hyundai a serious F1 possibility?
To date Hyundai has been an impressive success story. Started in 1967 to assemble Ford cars for the Korean market, the company began building the Hyundai Pony in 1974 in a joint venture with Mitsubishi Motors. Cheap labor in Korea and high quality workmanship enabled the company to undercut Japanese and western companies and the Pony, Stellar and Excel models all sold well. This success enabled the firm to invest in a different philosophy. The company opened its Namyang R&D Center and went on to build its first proprietary engine in 1991. The next step was a switch into a sportier and more luxurious range of cars with the launch of the Scoupe, the Elantra and the Accent. In order to advertise the cars the company made its first forays into international competition with victory on America's most famous hillclimb event Pike's Peak.
Since then the company has entered the World Rally Championship with the Accent WRC. The company has two cars being campaigned by Alister McRae and Kenneth Erickson and is now beginning to look at an even bigger sporting involvement. We hear from Korea that plans have been drawn up for a full Formula 1 standard test track and before the economic problems of 1998 and 1999 there were well-advanced plans for there to be a Korean GP. The conclusion therefore is that Hyundai should be watched closely in the years ahead as an assault on F1 should not be discounted.