Honda boss and technical director Toyoharu Tanabe revealed in the press today that the Japanese manufacturer has already geared up and restructured for supplying two teams in F1.
During the presser at the Toro Rosso launch, Tanabe announced that having both Red Bull teams has enabled them to bring their UK base up to capacity finally since the opening some two and half years ago during their McLaren days.
“The work of Sakura and the European headquarters of Milton Keynes has considerably more skilled workers and almost doubles the number of Honda engineers at the racetracks.” says Tanabe.
“I continue to lead the Formula One project, but each team has its own chief engineer. During tests and race weekends, we have a control room in both Sakura and Milton Keynes where we can follow the work on the track. We support our colleagues who are on site with help and advice.”
“Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing are getting identical engines, not just because of the regulations, but because it’s the best way for Honda. Also in terms of resources, the two teams are treated equally. I do not see any problems, we’re all family, with the roof of Red Bull Technology over the two GP racing teams.”
It may not be a coincidence that Honda chose to set up and expand their new base in Milton Keynes, the home town of Red Bull Racing.
Back in 2016, expanded its Formula 1 operation in Milton Keynes to provide the space required to supply further teams in the future, according to its chief at the time, Yusuke Hasegawa.
The Japanese manufacturer was said it is keen to take on additional teams at some point, with Red Bull last year touted as a possible partner for 2016. Of course McLaren vetoed that straight away, but it is certainly clear that Honda were not stupid at the time, giving themselves a good chance of working with a more desirable team with greater recent successes in Red Bull over McLaren.
The expansion of the Milton Keynes base in 2016 was clearly an indication of the Japanese manufacturer were certainly keeping one eye on the future.
The ex Honda F1 boss Hasegawa explained in 2016 that “We don’t have any room to provide any resources to another team but we should be that type of manufacturer,”
“We have to prepare more resources and organisation.
“Maybe at the end of next year we have to say that we are ready to prepare an engine for another team, so we will prepare the organisation.
“We’ve already built up the factory in Milton Keynes, a larger one. It’s not huge but it is big enough.
“So if we decided to prepare a second engine for a second team we just have to hire the people, the engineers.
“We have plenty of spare desks for them!”
Autosport reported back in 2016 that there have been no firm requests for a Honda supply from other F1 teams, but informal conversations had indeed taken place.
When asked if any of McLaren’s rivals had expressed an interest in a Honda engine deal, Hasegawa replied: “For the longer term, yes…” Read into that statement what you will.