After somewhat optimistic mid-season hopes that things were turning around for the Honda F1 teams, it is clear now that they have not. Since our last update, the factory Honda Racing F1 team and Honda-powered Super Aguri team have been to the British, European and Hungarian GPs. Not one of the four cars scored a single point or made it to the final round of qualifying in any of the events.
Let's step back and have a look at the scorecard here. Take Jenson Button's single point from his eighth place finish in France, add the four that Takuma Sato gathered up in Monaco and Canada and you get a whopping five points for the season. Now forget about the 328 points that the top three teams have earned so far this year. The remaining eight teams, with no shot at the championship podium, have earned 86 points. The two Honda-powered teams have earned five of those points. This doesn't add up. Let's look at wins.
Honda's current stint in F1 competition started at BAR in 2000, with Honda officially claiming the team name in 2005. Button's one win last year puts the team at one win in anywhere from two to seven seasons, depending on how you want to look at it. This is embarrassing, but maybe it shouldn't be unexpected.
The last time Honda fielded its own chassis was in the '64-'69 seasons. During that time they only scored two victories. This is depressing.
There was a period though when Honda-powered F1 cars did rather well. From '83-'92 Honda Motor Co. supplied engines on and off to various teams including Williams and McLaren. During that time the Honda engines earned six constructor's championships, five driver's championships and 71 race wins. Those are numbers that Honda owners can be proud of.
Perhaps it is time to consider a new direction for Honda's approach to Formula 1 competition. Would it really be so hard to get the current Honda RA807E engine into the Williams' F1 cars? They are the third most successful team in F1, some of that coming by way of Honda power. Right now Williams is buying its engines from Toyota. With the current F1 mandated freeze on engine development until 2010, Honda wouldn't even need to spend that much on research. They could probably supply Williams with engines for a lot less that the nearly 400 million dollars per year they are spending now to field a struggling team. They might even make money.
Honda fans would be quick to point at a competitive Honda-powered F1 car and claim it as their own. As much as we would feel bad to see the factory team go under, it would be a relief. Sure, the drivers are always smiling, but they really do look miserable.
Then there's the leftover money. They could drop 20 million dollars on a team of their new supercars to sweep at Le Mans, toss a few mil at a Daytona Prototype effort, maybe even slip a few hundred thou to one of the starving Honda drag cars. Then we could take sport compact racing back from GM. The venue really doesn't matter. The point is that Honda should be out there winning at whatever they do.