In 2006, Honda attempted to enter Formula One as a complete team in grand fashion with a budget and committee to create the best car on the grid. They failed. Of course they would tell you the economy failed and this prompted their departure from the sport. The team they sold for $1 then went on to win the world championship…fate can be cruel.
To be fair, Honda was not the only one leaving Formula 1 with their tails between their legs. BMW and Toyota also departed when times got tough. But what of rumors that Honda could be keen to re-enter F1 when/if the engine format changes for 2014? According to Motor Trend’s story by Michael Shaffer, this may not be on their radar as he quotes Honda CEO Takanobu Ito:
“We have not decided anything yet. However, we consider it’s very crucial for Honda to take on the challenge of participating in different sports. Unfortunately after the financial crisis we have decided to exit Formula 1.”
There is little doubt many F1 fans would like to see Honda and others return but Ito is quick to leave the door open:
“We have been putting more effort into other motorsports. For Honda to enhance brand image and brand perception, as well as to motivate our own associates and also to fulfill expectations of our customers and society, we believe that two key words important to us are motorsports and challenges.”
It’s the same challenge for Formula One over the years…manufacturer involvement. How much is good for the sport and how much is too much? Should F1 be catering to car makers or privateers and what would constitute a healthy balance of both? Can both live with a system that favors the deep pockets of the manufacturer?