Motor Racing: Honda may quit grand prix circuit

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HONDA will pull out of Formula One after this year because of rising costs and stricter limits on engines, the Japanese Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported yesterday.

Honda engines have won the constructors' championship for the past six years (twice with Williams and four times with McLaren), but it is thought that the company is dissatisfied with McLaren's two victories from nine races this season and will formally announce its withdrawal next month.

Asahi said worsening car sales in the US and Japan made it difficult for Honda to justify its annual investment of dollars 80m ( pounds 41m) and 100 engineers in the sport.

The stricter controls imposed on Formula One engines in an effort to end domination of the competition by a few teams and the death of company founder Soichiro Honda have also influenced the company's thinking.

A spokesman denied that it had reached a decision on withdrawing from grand prix racing from 1993, saying the firm was still considering the move, and that a final decision would not be made before September. 'We are now considering investing in the development of safety measures and protecting the environment rather than developing new engines.'

Honda entered Formula One racing in 1964 with its own chassis, then withdrew in 1968. In 1984, it returned to the sport, supplying engines to Williams.