Skip to content

Honda’s latest return part of its cyclical history in F1

May 16, 2013, 9:45 AM EST

Japan F1 Honda AP

Off and on, Honda’s history in Formula One dates back to 1964. As Formula One evolves, so too does Honda’s participation in the sport.

Development of the RA271, a fully Honda-built engine and chassis, began in 1962 with its race debut in 1964. Richie Ginther took Honda’s first win in the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix in an RA272. The iconic white and red car built for that era was one of three on display at Thursday morning’s announcement.

Honda also famously won the 1967 Italian Grand Prix with John Surtees in the RA300 in the car’s first race; the car had been partially designed by Lola.

Tragedy stopped Honda’s first F1 voyage in its tracks; Jo Schlesser’s death in the 1968 French Grand Prix precipitated Honda’s first departure.

It returned as an engine partner in 1983, first with Spirit and later with Lotus, McLaren, Tyrrell and Williams. That 10-year run through 1992 was Honda’s most successful period in the sport, thanks to its accolades achieved with McLaren from 1988 through ’92.

Honda was only loosely associated with F1 from 1993 through 1999, in partnership with independents Mugen. There were still four race wins in that period with Ligier (Olivier Panis, 1996 Monaco) and three with Jordan.

An effort to re-enter on its own in 1999 was aborted due to another death of recruited technical director and designer Harvey Postlethwaite.

But in 2000, Honda re-entered once again, first with BAR and then Jordan. Jordan lost its Honda deal at the end of 2002 with Takuma Sato’s departure playing a role, and struggled for the final three years of its existence (2003-05) to find suitable engine partners and drivers.

Honda, having finished second as an engine partner to BAR in 2004, was keen to re-enter on its own in the era of heavy manufacturer participation (Ferrari, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Jaguar) and did so when it bought out the remaining shares of BAR in 2005.

Although Jenson Button recorded his first win as a driver, and Honda its first as a constructor since 1967, the three years Honda ran the ex-BAR team were peppered with technical staff shakeups, frustrations, and a noteworthy loss of funding with British American Tobacco’s withdrawal at the end of 2006.

Honda pulled out at the end of 2008 ahead of the next set of new F1 regs and car design, in play since 2009. Ross Brawn led a management buyout to keep the team afloat with a new  engine supplier, and with development of the 2009 car the main focus of 2008, Button and Brawn GP scored the World Championships.

Latest Posts
  1. F1, IndyCar seasons finally premiere in 2015’s version of March madness

    Mar 2, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    Mercedes Formula One driver Rosberg of Germany leads the pack at the start of the Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne Reuters

    F1 and IndyCar kick off; NHRA, sports cars and ladder series also have a busy month of March ahead.

  2. F1: Barcelona second test wrap, and 2015 test times cumulative roundup

    Mar 2, 2015, 9:30 AM EST

    RosbergFinalBarc Getty Images

    Mercedes leads in pace, and lap count as F1 preseason testing is in the books for 2015.

  3. Michael Schumacher’s son Mick to race in ADAC F4 championship this season

    Mar 2, 2015, 8:59 AM EST

    MickSchu Getty Images

    Mick Schumacher to advance from karting into cars this season.

  4. Max Chilton makes intriguing career shift with Nissan LMP1 move

    Mar 2, 2015, 8:21 AM EST

    ChiltonColumn AP

    With potential Indy Lights success there for the taking, Max Chilton instead opts for the LMP1 route with Nissan.

  5. Max Chilton, Alex Buncombe complete Nissan LMP1 lineup

    Mar 2, 2015, 7:45 AM EST

    Photo: NISMO Photo: NISMO

    Max Chilton and Alex Buncombe round out the Nissan LMP1 lineup; Chilton full season and Buncombe at Le Mans.

  6. Barcelona F1 2nd Test Paddock Notebook – Sunday

    Mar 1, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    F1 Testing In Barcelona - Day Four Getty Images

    Here’s the final recap from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as pre-season testing comes to a close.

  7. Ferrari staying grounded despite strong pre-season display

    Mar 1, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

    Maurizio Arrivabene AP

    Team principal Maurizio Arrivabene calls for “concentration and discipline” at Maranello in the lead-up to the start of the 2015 season.

  8. Happy Birthday to reigning IndyCar champion Will Power

    Mar 1, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    Power a champion at long last. Photo: Getty Images Getty Images

    The Team Penske pilot turns 34 years old today.

  9. Maldonado ends testing in the wall after brake problem

    Mar 1, 2015, 2:30 PM EST

    Maldoando 13a Getty Images

    Maldonado is still able to find the positives out of his final test run before the beginning of the 2015 season in Australia on March 15.

  10. Bottas: Reliability a key strength for Williams in 2015

    Mar 1, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    F1 Testing In Barcelona - Day Four Getty Images

    Should Mercedes drop the ball in 2015, Williams could be the team to pick up the pieces and snatch a race win.

  11. Verstappen ready for F1 debut after “best pre-season ever”

    Mar 1, 2015, 1:30 PM EST

    Verstappen 13 Getty Images

    17-year-old will become the youngest driver in the history of F1 to start a race in Australia.

  12. James Courtney wins season-opening V8 Supercars feature in Adelaide; ex-NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose 12th

    Mar 1, 2015, 1:00 PM EST

    V8 Supercars Clipsal 500 - Race 3 Getty Images

    Ambrose cracks Top 10 on feature grid, but fuel strategy hinders an otherwise decent run for him.

  13. Rosberg: Beating Hamilton in testing a “useful” edge

    Mar 1, 2015, 12:45 PM EST

    Rosberg 13 Getty Images

    German driver posted the fastest time of winter testing in Barcelona on Friday.

  14. Simona de Silvestro completes Formula E show run in Geneva

    Mar 1, 2015, 12:30 PM EST

    © FIA Formula E © FIA Formula E

    With the ban on motorsport in Switzerland being lifted, the door has been opened to an ePrix in Geneva.

  15. F1 pre-season testing ends with Bottas fastest for Williams

    Mar 1, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    F1 Testing In Barcelona - Day Four Getty Images

    Attention now turns to the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 15.

  16. Allison pleased with Ferrari race pace in testing

    Mar 1, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    Raikkonen 13 Getty Images

    Ferrari technical director says that the SF15-T is working as expected.

  17. Maldonado hoping to fight with Red Bull and Ferrari in 2015

    Mar 1, 2015, 10:00 AM EST

    Maldonado 13 Getty Images

    Maldonado confident Lotus has made a big improvement after miserable 2014.

  18. Boullier expects McLaren to be up to speed by Spanish GP

    Mar 1, 2015, 9:00 AM EST

    AUTO-PRIX-F1-ESP-TEST-MCLAREN Getty Images

    Team racing director admits that it is behind schedule after a difficult winter.

  19. Lewis Hamilton explains decision to reject #1 for 2015

    Mar 1, 2015, 8:00 AM EST

    F1 Testing In Barcelona - Day Three Getty Images

    British driver says that sticking with #44 means far more to him than having the number designated for the world champion.