British American Racing and Honda Motor Company today jointly announced that BAR will be supplied with Formula One engines designed and manufactured by Honda, beginning in the year 2000. At the same time, Jordan announced that it had extended an agreement with Mugen, who develop Honda engines for the team, for a further two years (see next report).
Honda and British American Racing technical staff will also be involved jointly in the design of future race chassis for the team with engineers from the Honda Research and Development Company assuming major responsibility for developing advanced Formula One vehicle technologies, including chassis control systems.
The initial term of the contract will be three years.
"It is very exciting news that Honda has decided to return to Grand Prix racing as a partner with British American Racing," commented BAR's Managing Director, Craig Pollock. "It is a company with an illustrious heritage in motor sport, and you can be sure that together, British American Racing and Honda will be aiming to add more stories of success to the Formula One history books in the years to come."
Honda withdrew from the sport in 1992, after winning six Formula One World Constructors' Championships and demonstrating complete mastery of both turbocharged and naturally aspirated (non-turbocharged) engine technologies. Eight years after, Honda was set to return to Formula One, as an independent factory team (similar to Ferrari). Harvey Postlethwaite, former Tyrrell chief designer, was head of Honda's F1 Return porject and Jos Verstappen was their test driver.
But, Postlethwaite's sudden death last month, during a Honda testing at Barcelona, put a hault to the project and Honda officials were considering whether to continue with the project at all. Today, amidst the joint announcement with BAR, Honda Motor Company also officially announced the immediate cancellation of the Honda F1 Project.
Left without a seat for the time being, a very disappointed Verstappen said today: "It's an enormous disappointment, certainly if we look at the competitive results so far and the great potential we had available. I was therefor very optimistic for the 2000 season, which will not continue with Honda. But fortunately I was able to show during this season's testing that with great material and good co-operation I am able to be competitive within Formula One. Despite everything, it has been a period where I learned a lot and I wish Honda the best of luck in the future".