25 June 2015
Honda preparing to supply 'multiple teams'
Despite playing its plans down, Honda is planning a new facility that is intended to help it supply more than the McLaren team
Honda is increasing its engineering capacity in the UK in order to supply 'multiple Formula 1 teams' it has emerged.
Internal planning documents seen by Crash.net reveal that the Japanese manufacturer intends to construct a new F1 factory in Milton Keynes, England.
“At present, Honda's power units are solely used by the McLaren Honda race team, but it is intended that they will become a key provider for multiple Formula 1 teams” the document explains.
The new facility, which will be located behind the existing Mugen Technical Centre in Milton Keynes will house up to 65 staff, recruited locally, most of them educated to degree level with their main focus being on research and development, but it is suspected that among them will be the additional track support engineers required to service more than one team.
Some of the other new staff will be used to increase Honda's hybrid system R&D strength. “The development will provide significant employment opportunities for specialist engineers and support staff. The facility will initially generate approximately 35 full-time jobs, which will be a mixture of highly-skilled engineering positions and support staff. By 2018 it is expected the facility will directly employ approximately 65 staff with significant knock-on employment benefits both locally and nationally” the Honda document reveals.
This comes despite Honda motorsport boss Yasuhisa Arai playing down its presence.
“It is just a warehouse, we need somewhere to store energy recovery systems as right now they are kept in an old shipping container next to the Mugen building.”
The Honda documents detail the internal layout of this 'warehouse' and its purpose “at ground floor level there will be a trailer bay, development room, workshop, 62-workstation office, two meeting rooms, a sub-dividable guest room, storage room, comm. room, staff room and kitchen, W.C.s, canteen and kitchen, staff gymnasium, reception and visitor café. The development will expand the existing activities and focus upon the development of state-of-the-art technologies for use in Formula 1 power units.”
As for the jobs that the new facility would create Honda claims that it is not actively recruiting at the moment as has yet to agree a supply deal with any additional teams.
“We are not bringing in any people at the moment but we have an eye on the future, when we returned to Formula 1 FOM and the FIA told us that we would need to supply multiple teams, this facility will let us do that, but right now it's just a warehouse” the Arai claims.
However, the documents make it clear Honda expects to supply more than one team in the near future. It has been speculated and even intimated by Honda staff that any second F1 engine supply would be a works deal making it particularly attractive to the financially weak Force India and Manor teams, both of which have existing relationships with McLaren. Honda denies it has had any approaches for a second power unit supply, but has admitted that it would be keen to do so.
Honda's new building is expected to start construction during the August break and be ready for operation by the end of the season, meaning that a second and perhaps even a third team supply could be ready for the 2016 season.
by Max Yamabiko
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