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Honda’s Woes

I don’t know who “Helios” is (which is the idea, I think) but he appears to be a member of the Honda team. Certainly, his article for Pitpass today is written from an insider’s viewpoint. And it makes pretty depressing reading, especially if you were hanging on to the last shreds of hope that Jenson Button might yet get the chance of a few decent results this year.

Hondas

The way Helios tells it, Honda’s problems stem from a lack of leadership and too much interference from board room level. It is an all-too-familiar scenario to me, having worked for a few companies that suffered from the same disease. Racing teams need to be small, closely-knit groups of people utterly dedicated to their task and not subject to the whims and theories of people who know nothing of F1.

Saddest of all was to hear of Button’s attempts to re-inspire the team. He is trying, apparently, but his body language shows that he does not have much hope for success this year. It reminds me too painfully of Bernie Ecclestone’s assessment of Jenson last year.

Can you see Michael Schumacher in such a situation? I am no fan of Michael but I know that he would have insisted on the team being allowed to work the way he required and he would have brought about a unity of thought and ambition that would have seen them conquer their problems by now. It seems that Bernie was right and Jenson lacks the ruthlessness and singlemindedness to create an efficient winning team such as the German did at Ferrari. As does Rubens Barrichello, it seems.

Helios is in agreement with all the other Honda-watchers in citing Nick Fry as the source of their weakness. And one cannot argue with the fact that the buck stops at the desk of the team manager – he is the only one with the power to make changes in the team in the quest for greater efficiency. So far, that does not seem to be happening.

It’s a picture of a team in disarray, unable to explain the deficiencies of the car this season, embarrassed by the greater success of their tiny sister team, Super Aguri, and unhappy with the management. I have to say that, on this evidence, Button can forget any chance of winning a race this year and he will find it hard even to score points.

So much for my hopes of a championship for him this year.

14 Responses to “Honda’s Woes”

  1. Super Aguri is run by a Racer. I guess that makes a hell of a difference.

    And, who wants Honda to win when you can have Super Aguri kicking their asses?

    I’ts like Minardi beating Jordan or something like that.

  2. Very true, Haplo – the Super Aguri team are showing how it should be done and the reason can only be that the team principal used to race in F1 and so knows what is required. There are big changes on the way at Honda but I doubt they will achieve the necessary improvement.

  3. Besides, you can’t help but cheer when Super Sato does his kamikaze overtaking moves!

  4. Yeah, I have a soft spot for Sato too – he’s so entertaining. It occurs to me though – what will really be the end for Honda is next year, if they pass on the FA107 cars to SA, using presumably a new car (FA108?) themselves, and then SA still beat them… ;)

  5. Theres something about watching something go horribly wrong that I find entertaining, give Honda some credit for spicing up the sport a little. Toyota should also thank Honda for taking the heat off of them. Honda is big, Toyota is HUGE.

    Its also nice to see someone/something do so well after being ridiculed so badly the previous year. They went from being Super Best Friends to being Super Overachievers.

  6. I have been one of the eternal optimists for the case of Jenson’s c’ship chances. Unfortunately, the more i see him this year, the more i am reminded of another talent who never gave what it takes to become a champion- JPM. At least Jenson is not as temperamental as he was!! So i will still pull along with my hope for a while. Also from what i have seen so far this year, there is one more driver who is knocking the doors desperately to join his former team mate as a wasted talent.

  7. Hah, Dan, you are so right that there’s entertainment in watching something that has been hyped flop miserably. Pity it had to be Jenson’s team, however. Also true about Super Aguri – they have improved out of all recognition.

  8. Jenson has that ability that all great contenders-that-nearly-made-it have: really bad timing. Like them, he swaps teams just at the moment his old one comes good and the new one promptly does a belly flop. I saw it happen so often to Chris Amon that I could have screamed.

    You think Kimi might be suffering from the same disease? You could be right – he certainly has lousy luck.

  9. This is DC’s year!

  10. As champion, Haplo? That’s hoping for a lot, although I’d love to see it. If you mean that he’ll get some good finishes, then I agree; it looks as though the Red Bull RB3 is going to be very good by the second half of the year.

  11. I meant that if DC in terrific cars never managed to win a championship (mainly because he’s a Could-Have Been), then JB will NEVER manage to win nothing. He’s a bit… dull.

  12. Ah, I see. Well, I think that Jenson has more talent than DC but I don’t suppose he’ll ever have the car to prove it now.

  13. Well I cannot speak for his situation but maybe these drivers should stick with a team rather than jumping at the team with the most money to spend. As you said yesterday Alonzo took far less money then most to make sure he is on a competitive fun team.

    I’m sure Renault could have offered more for his service but then he would be floundering in the middle of the pack also.

  14. The problem is that the team has become ‘infected’ by a big-company mindset. I’ve worked for an organisation of 7000+ people for (almost) all my working life, and one thing I’ve come to realise is that one can only ever get much done by staying under the radar of senior management and hoping they won’t interfere or impose particular practices on us.

    I was speaking to my father the other week, who works for a different, and even larger organisation, and we both ended up coming to the conclusion that it is just in the nature of big organisations to be this way.

    The best F1 teams are either independent outfits, or have a senior management (as at Renault) who keep the parent company off their backs. Honda need to get back to building the engines, and leave the race team to run itself.

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