Motor Racing: Honda heads back to F1 fray

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The Independent Online
HONDA MOTORS announced in Tokyo yesterday that it plans to return to the Formula One circuit with a full racing team in 2000, marking the end of an eight-year absence from the sport its engines once dominated.

The Honda president, Hiroyuki Yoshino, told reporters that a comprehensive team, using its own engine, chassis and management, would begin full-scale testing early next year with an eye on the 2000 championship.

The new team means Honda's approach will be similar to that of the Italian constructor Ferrari, which manages its own team as well as making its own engines and chassis. Other major car makers on the circuit supply their engines for independent racing teams to use.

Honda had announced its intention to return to the track earlier this year but had given no date for its comeback, which has been the subject of much speculation in the Japanese sports press.

Yoshino said that many of Honda's engineers joined the company out of an interest in F1 racing and that the return would give a healthy boost to morale.

He doubted that the company would be able to win the championship during its first year back on the circuit, although it hoped to be a viable contender within three years.

Honda took part in F1 racing as a full team between 1964 and 1968, winning two out of 35 races.

However, the manufacturer shot to prominence in the sport in the late 1980s and early 1990s when it dominated the constructors' championship, winning the title a record six consecutive years until 1991.

Honda withdrew from motor racing after the completion of the 1992 circuit, stating that it had achieved its objectives in the sport.