Outgoing Honda motorsport boss Yasuhisa Arai has explained he is being 'retired' by the Japanese firm as part of standard policy within the company.
Having worked at the helm of Honda's McLaren F1 project from conception to what became a frustrating first season in 2015, Arai had spoken positively about what the team could achieve in 2016 as recently as this weekend's launch for the MP4-31.
However, after just one day of testing, Honda announced Arai would be stepping down with almost immediate effect, replacing him with Yusuke Hasegawa in the role of executive chief designer.
Arai has now gone on to explain the reasons for his departure, saying Honda is retiring him at 60 years-old, a policy that he says is standard across the company regardless of the role and is not related to performance results.
“Simply, I am reaching retirement age in our company policy,” he said. “Japanese companies have an age of retirement and I will achieve that this year at 60 years old. That is one reason.
“It's not my decision, so the company will decide when and what timing because of course my retirement age gets closer year by year. So the company decides the timing and that's a company decision. Maybe it's the best case because it's before the season, so we have to pass the baton to Mr Hasegawa, to a young man.
“During the season it's a very complicated time and could cause big trouble and confuse McLaren. I think it's good timing and the company decided well.
Reflecting on his time in the role, Arai says he is pleased to have part of such an ambitious project, despite the disappointing initial outcome.
“Given the task, because it is a big task, the results were difficult. But personally, because it was so difficult and part of a big project I was pleased to have been a part of it and in the midst of all of it.”
Arai's PR Akiko Itoga gave this explanation of the company policy:
"A cultural difference. We do have an organisational change whether big or small every year. Usually effective on April 1. We have a normal annual organisational change because of his retirement going forward we need to set up an organisation that will oversee the track and F1 responsibilities. The strengthening of the F1 project in total is just more commitment from Honda."