FEBRUARY 6, 2004
Why would Honda axe its F1 programme?
There is not much news around at the moment in Formula 1 and so some of the news gatherers are clutching at straws and suggesting that Honda might not continue in F1 when it comes to negotiating a new contract with British American Racing later this year. These stories make no sense at all. Honda is in a very strong position at the moment in F1 even if it is not winning racing. The important point from a marketing point of view is that Honda is consistently beating its rival Toyota, despite the fact that it is a much smaller company. That is not something which is overlooked in Japan and helps to strengthen Honda's image of beinmg innovative and competitive, which helps the firm to sell cars. Toyota may be bigger but for the moment it is still losing to Honda in Grand Prix racing. That is hugely valuable publicity.
At the same time Honda engineers are learning, and learning a lot about F1. The company wanted to know more about F1 chassis and auxiliaries and thanks to the relationship with Honda that knowledge is spreading through the company. The F1 programme is also a source of much inspiration back in Japan.
And, now after a series of years of poor results, Honda is moving in the right direction with, the company believes, the right man now in charge of the project. This will be Takeo Kiuchi's first year in charge and there are already signs that the BAR-Honda combination is closing the gap to the top teams.
Now is not the time to quit.
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