Honda to get new F1 boss – Motorsport.com
Honda’s Formula 1 programme is to undergo a revamp, with its motorsport boss Yasuhisa Arai to leave his role at the end of the month.
Arai has led Honda’s F1 efforts since the manufacturer announced that it would be returning to the sport as the exclusive partner of McLaren.
But its return has fallen below expectations, as it faced both reliability and performance issues during a disappointing 2015 campaign.
Honda has spent the winter revamping key concepts of the power unit which it hopes will allow McLaren to make the necessary steps and move up the order in 2016.
However, despite Arai having maintained charge of the F1 programme over the winter, it has been decided that he will be stepping down from the position at the end of this month ahead of his retirement.
The decision was ratified at a Honda Board Meeting in Japan that took place on Tuesday.
As part of annual changes that Honda makes to its corporate structure, a wider restructuring of staff has been approved.
The F1 project will now be headed by Yusuke Hasegawa, while Arai’s other motorsport activities will be taken over by R&D and Sakura head Kenji Ohtsu.
Yoshiyuki Matsumoto has been appointed as supervising director of the F1 project.
Arai will stay on in his F1 role for now, to act as an advisor during a handover phase.
Arai faced intense pressure last year, as McLaren’s hopes of a push for decent results fell short – and its energy recovery weaknesses were exposed at power tracks like Spa and Monza.
At a tense press conference at the Italian Grand Prix, Arai also had to fend off some hostile questioning from the media about his and Honda’s failure to deliver.
Speaking to Motorsport.com at the end of last year, Arai explained why he had repeatedly been positive about prediction for progress, even if those hopes ultimately fell short.
“As a team if the team management talked negative all the time or tried to play down everything then that brings the whole team down, because they look to us,” he said.
“My philosophy is I shouldn’t be doing that. I believe the team, they are doing their best – so they will try to do their best.
“At the real beginnings of 2014 in Abu Dhabi, with electrical problems at the very beginning, I believed if we got rid of the electrical issues then it would possibly turn out for the better.
“But, as I said, over the summer was when everything was clear – that it was a hardware issue that we had the difficulty with. Then we could put our heads down.
“At the same time it was a very difficult Saturday at Monza! But it was a good experience…”