Honda in F1, 1965-2008 in pictures

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Honda have announced they will return to Formula One with McLaren in the 2015 F1 season.

This will be Honda’s fourth entry into Formula One. Here are pictures of their previous F1 racers from the sixties up to their last F1 campaign in 2008.

1965-1968: First Honda F1 team

Honda’s first foray into Formula One in the sixties came as the sport’s short-lived 1.5-litre engine formula was coming to an end. Honda scored its first victory at the last race run to those rules, Richie Ginther triumphing in the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix.

They returned with a 3-litre engine the following year and John Surtees gave them another victory in a thrilling race at Monza in 1967, crossing the line side–by-side with Jack Brabham.

But the team pushed too far with its 1968 car which Surtees refused to drive, believing it was too dangerous. His fears were realised when Jo Schlesser took over the car for the French Grand Prix, crashed and died in a terrible fire. Honda pulled out of F1 at the end of the year.

1983-1992: Honda engines in F1

Honda were attracted back to Formula One as the sport embraced turbocharging in the early eighties. Having dipped a toe in the water with the tiny Spirit team, Honda allied first to Williams and later Lotus and McLaren as its superb engines dominated the sport.

This was never more so than in 1988, when McLaren-Hondas won all bar one of the 16 races, and typically qualified whole seconds faster than their rivals.

Even after F1’s enforced switch back to normally aspirated engines in 1989 Honda stayed ahead of the competition. By the end of 1991 Honda-powered teams had won six consecutive constructors’ championships and its drivers had won five titles in a row.

With little left to prove, Honda left F1 at the end of 1992. But it retained a link with the sport via tuning company Mugen, who scored wins with Jordan in the late nineties.

2002-2005: V10 engines

By the start of the new millennium F1 was a V10 engine formula and Honda joined forces with BAR, enjoying a successful though winless 2004 season.

Much was expected of their 2005 campaign but they were thrown out of the San Marino Grand Prix and disqualified from the next two races after they were found to have been running underweight.

2006-2008: Second Honda F1 team

In 2006 Honda turned BAR into its factory team and Jenson Button scored a long-awaited first win for them at the Hungaroring.

But their 2007 and 2008 campaigns were disastrous. Ross Brawn arrived at the team and ploughed its resources into preparing a car for the new 2009 regulations. But as the financial crisis worsened Honda abruptly canned its F1 project.

The 2009 cars were badged as Brawns and powered by Mercedes engines. They dominated the first half of the new season and claimed the constructors’ crown, with Button taking the drivers’ title.

He then left the team for McLaren, but is set to be reunited with Honda when they return to the sport in 2015.

More pictures of Honda in F1:

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Images © Honda, Williams/LAT

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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36 comments on “Honda in F1, 1965-2008 in pictures”

  1. I was so disappointed when Honda struggled in 2007. And I secretly loved the myearthdreams livery; I never really understood the intense dislike of it.

    1. @prisoner-monkeys And here I was thinking I was the only one. That car is still stunning.

    2. Agreed.

  2. I loved the look of the BAR/Honda cars, especially the 2005/2006 ones.

    1. I always hated the raised front wings from 2005 on. I got used to it soon enough, but thought it looked wrong when compared to the earlier cars.

      1. Must say that I agree. MP4/4 is poseibly the best looking of them all (or the John Player Special from Lotus in the late -70.

  3. Wonderful! But where’s Jordan?

    1. Jordan didn’t use factory Honda engines. They ran the Mugen Honda customer engines. Looks like Keith was only going with works engines.

      1. I always though Mugen was the in-house Honda preformance brand? Like TRD, Nismo, HSV, Ralliart, etc..

      2. @eoin16 But they DID run works Honda engines – in 2001 and 2002 to be exact.

        @keithcollantine If you could add some Jordan Honda pics (esp. those of Sato), that would be awesome. :)

      3. Jordan used ‘proper’ Honda engines in 2001 and ’02 after running Mugens for 3 seasons.

    2. They are mentioned in the part about Honda keeping ties with the sport through Mugen @lustigson

      1. I saw that, but I meant pictures. The yellow cars always stood out for me.

  4. Fernando Cruz
    17th May 2013, 12:07

    Maybe Honda can supply Williams and Sauber too. Bruno Senna could be back to Williams and Kamui Kobayashi to Sauber in 2015. They are doing a very good job in WEC, mainly the former, and could be back in single seaters late 2014 with Formula E.

    1. Kobayashi is a product of Toyota, doubt he’d be back in F1 because of Honda though stranger things have happened. He’s the best Japanese driver currently available (though I’m sure Sato would disagree with that due to his Indy exploits), so if they do insist on a Japanese driver in one of their teams he’s a solid bet.

  5. Great article and lovely photos. Good to see Honda try to get a photo of all the cars they build/supply engines to.

    A couple of interesting wikipedia articles here regarding Honda F1 cars that were never raced (and of which there are plenty) –
    The RA207, which was the test bed for the 1960’s Honda F1 cars.
    The RC100 series, which saw 3 cars built to 1991 F1 specifications (RC100), 1993 Specifications (RC101) and 1997 Regulations (RC101B), which all look sublime. I can imagine they would have blown the competition away had they have raced.
    And then there’s the slightly more well known RA099, designed by Harvey Postlethwaite for Honda’s proposed return to F1 in 2000. The chassis was comissioned by Honda and built by Dallara, and tested by Jos Verstappen. Postlethwaite died during development and the project was shelved.

  6. 60’s cars… always the most beautiful!!

  7. No Super Aguri :(

    1. Same feelings here :((

  8. No pic of Hungary 2006?

    1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      17th May 2013, 14:11

      Button’s first victory… yeap I was looking for his crazy eyes with the helmet on!

  9. Also, can someone shed light on the relationship between Ayrton Senna and Honda? I have read that Senna was quite a favorite with the Honda bosses and it was because of Senna, they switched from Lotus to Mclaren in 1988. Why was this so?

    And has the sport seen such a close relationship between a driver and engine and manufacturer before or after?

    1. Ayrton supposedly had a hand in the development of the NSX

    2. 2 video’s that illustrate the relationship, an emotional Senna talks about the departure of Honda
      Especially 2:40 when he runs away crying, beautiful!

      1. only the 2nd clip is relevant, because it has the 1st clip in it near the end…

  10. BAR and second works team were just jokes in most cases. I hope Mclaren would not face such future.

    1. I wouldn’t say that. Honda turned into a joke in 2007 and 2008, but before that they were up there. In 2004 they were arguably the second best team after Ferrari. They were on the podium virtually at every GP that year. So i wouldn’t agree that hey were a joke “in most cases”. I’d call it 2 bad years. Compared with Toyota who were in the sport much longer and spent even more money, Honda’s involvement with BAR and their works team was more successful. Certainly not a joke.

      I think this is good for McLaren, but they should stop pumping money into fixing this year’s car and start focusing on 2014 (like Brawn did in 2008). If they spend too much time playing catchup this year and trying to understand their dog of a car, then next year they will be one step behind again. I hope im wrong but it wont be until 2015 that McLaren start fighting for the championship again. Despite the denials, i think that Mercedes will not share everything with McLaren next year, knowing full well that Honda would benefit.

      1. What I really consider is their ability of engine development which is quite embarrassing in last couple of years. Honda engine was literally the worst engine on the grid when engines were freezed. Even worse than Renault in terms of output power and that’s what I concern. People says Senna-Prost era and might also Insight hybrid but, well, I have no faith on their ability that much.

  11. the japanese manufacturers, come and go when they consider fit. Except honda in the 80’s and 90’s, all they made was burn millions of dollars, like if there was no tomorrow. Being toyota the winners of the money expending.
    When they come, they are welcome, the same can be said when they go with their tails between their legs, because we know they have no other choice but come back. That’s what i thought in 2009, and the latest honda come back “makes me happy”.

  12. Great that Honda is back, i would prefer more as a full team, but also as a engine supplier is good

  13. I think the ’06 Honda is one of the most gorgeous cars in F1 history. I know a lot of people didn’t like the “flicks” of the cars from the mid noughties, but I always thought that they looked modern, futuristic and technologically fantastic; the Honda was by far the best of the bunch.

  14. Great article Keith, it brought me a lot of memories. But what really struck me was the picture of Keke Rosberg, Williams-Honda FW10, Detroit, 1985. Is this picture distorced or that was realy the distance between the driver and the front wheels? It is almost like he was driving a kart.

  15. Mugen was also powering Olivier Panis to his only F1 victory.

  16. Keith,
    I’m pretty sure Honda was in the back of the BAR in 2000 not from 2002, and also no mention of Jordan that ran Honda engines in 2001 and 2002.

  17. The MyEarthDream livery, and specifically the 2007 attempt, was truly awful. Car wasn’t great either…

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