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Honda F1 reluctant to enlist ‘outside’ assistance

Yasuhisa Arai says he wants to continue 'nurturing manpower' from within Honda, rather than enlist outside assistance.
Honda motorsport boss Yasuhisa Arai says he is unwilling to allow 'outside personnel' advise on engine development as it wants to 'nurture manpower' within what he admits is a relatively new staff base.

The Japanese firm returned to F1 as an engine supplier last year as part of a collaboration with McLaren, but endured a dismal 2015 campaign as the V6 hybrid power unit proved both woefully underpowered and unreliable.

Prompting McLaren to suffer its worst F1 season since 1980, Honda heads into 2016 confident it has made substantial gains on its rivals, even if it was forced to play down media reports of a huge hike in power that would bring it more into line with Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault.

Regardless, Honda has persevered with a culture of developing new staff from within, with Arai saying he turned down McLaren's request to bring in outside help for a long-term purpose.

"We thoroughly discuss problems [with McLaren] until we see eye to eye,” he told the Japanese Nikkei newspaper. “Sometime around last summer, they asked if we had sufficient [development] resources and wanted to know why we were doing things exclusively on our own. They also asked us to use outside personnel, which from their perspective is natural given the high job mobility in Europe.

"But we explained that Honda has a different philosophy. It's important to nurture manpower. It isn't acceptable to us to have an outside engineer stay for just three months or half a year."

Reflecting on the lessons learned from the 2015 season, Arai admits a lack of 'match sharpness' left the manufacturer ill-equipped to deal with the constant issues that would arise.

"Up until the Spanish Grand Prix in May, it was like playing whack-a-mole. As soon as we resolved one problem, another popped up. We felt the effects of our seven-year absence from racing. Although we recognised [technological troubles], we failed to quickly pinpoint the causes, come up with measures to resolve them and make the necessary adjustments

“Though we don't disclose the number of people involved in our F1 team, about half of them are new to the field. We were suffering from what athletes call a 'lack of match sharpness.'"

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February 02, 2016 10:51 PM

Actually, this sounds very Japanese to me. The Asians have a different mindset on things like this as compared to European or American business. And they definitely like to promote from within. I would also think there is more than a little "face saving" going on too.


February 02, 2016 8:48 PM

Ah the ever cocky Honda. They should know where they are standing and acknowledge their limitation. Nurture their own engineering staffs. Saying is very easy but they need to know that these younger generation of engineers are not suited to ever changing F1's demands. They are not hungry enough as were the previous generation of Honda engineers that were involved in F1 battles past years. I foresee problems popping up during the races and they ( Honda) not be ready to address those for sure arising problems in timely fashion.

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