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Costs the "biggest issue" as Honda ponders F1 future

NEWS STORY
25/11/2019

At a time the futures of Mercedes, Renault and Haas are in doubt, that of Honda has somehow slipped off the radar.

However, fact is that the Japanese manufacturer is currently only committed to continue in F1 for one more season, and at present company management is considering whether to remain in the sport beyond that.

In many ways the sport could be facing a 'perfect storm', for while losing teams such as Mercedes, Renault and Haas would be bad enough, the thought of losing Mercedes as an engine supplier, along with Renault and Honda is the stuff of F1 nightmares.

While the 2021 regulations are aimed at curbing spending by teams, the engine manufacturers are likely to continue investing in a bid to improve their chances, even though the engine regulations remain essentially unchanged.

At a time the Volkswagen Group has announced that it is saying "goodbye to factory-backed commitments using internal combustion engines", the increasing move to electric, together with costs, is the major factor as the manufacturers consider their futures.

"We have started to calculate how much it will cost with the future regulations," says Honda's F1 managing director, Masashi Yamamoto, according to Motorsport.com.

"We have noticed that it's a very tough for all the car manufacturers at the moment," he continued, "because of the environment change for electrification. So, we are summing up the development cost and having discussions internally."

When asked if reducing costs is the biggest factor facing his company, he replied: "It is true that the cost is the biggest issue.

"Winning is the first priority," he added. "Once we decide to participate, we just try to win."

With the FIA seeking to expand the use of common parts, Yamamoto admits that this would help, though he believes the sport must investigate all viable means of reducing costs.

"That was one idea, but overall, maybe we are still behind, so it might have been a bit difficult to use common parts. But taking the example of commons parts, if the FIA could have shown that in 2025 they can distribute this part as a common part, maybe it could affect our decision to continue or not. Because then we can see a bit more longer-term with the budget."

Despite a less than impressive return to F1 with McLaren, this season has seen Honda power Red Bull to three wins, while Toro Rosso has also claimed two podiums.

While third-place in the drivers' and team standings will please the board, Yamamoto admits that at the end of the day it is the balance sheets that matter.

"It's positive to have good results," he said. "But more important is a balance with the cost. We have to put lots of budget to accelerate our development to catch up the top runners. And now we are planning how to maintain current condition and reducing the cost at the same time."

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