Honda confirms F1 plans

HONDA MOTOR COMPANY president Hiroyuki Yoshino told reporters on Friday that the company will shortly announce its plans to return to Formula 1 racing in the year 2000. Two prototype cars - believed to have been built by Dallara in Italy - will be ready to run within the next few weeks and the intention is for these cars to be used in the course of 1999 to help Honda engineers learn about the manufacture and development of racing chassis. These efforts will be guided by European engineers under Dr. Harvey Postlethwaite, although this involvement is likely to be played down as was the case in the 1960s when Honda worked with Lola to develop a Formula 1 chassis.

Yoshino said that the attraction of F1 to the company is that it forces engineers to work quickly and make decisions. "The real bottom line of racing competition is that it challenges our engineers," he said.

He alluded to debates within Honda about whether the company should go it alone in F1. "Some see it as only risky and expensive," he said, "but I deeply believe our experience in racing is a basic reason for Honda's success. I think working with an organization with a different culture would be difficult and would slow us down so we are choosing to go by ourselves."

An official announcement of Honda's plans is expected at the Japanese GP in Suzuka.

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