Honda has introduced a new role to its Formula 1 project, with Toyoharu Tanabe taking on the title of F1 Technical Director, with Yusuke Hasegawa stepping down from his role of Head of F1 Project, a role that has now become defunct.
Tanabe will oversee Honda’s move to Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2018 after the three-year tenure with the McLaren F1 Team concluded at the end of 2017, while an Operating Officer in charge of HRD Sakura will oversee research and development and the overall operation of races and testing, with Autosport reporting Yasuaki Asaki will take on this role.
There had been a lot of pressure on Hasegawa following McLaren’s decision to end their partnership with Honda after three disappointing and often stressful seasons, with Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne all failing to secure a podium finish, with a couple of fifth places for Alonso the best they could do in their sixty-race alliance.
Tanabe has been a Honda employee since 1984 and worked as an engineer with Gerhard Berger at McLaren in the early 1990’s before being chief engineer to Jenson Button at BAR and then Honda in the mid-2000’s.
Hasegawa will still hold the role of executive chief engineer at Honda, and is expected to put the knowledge he’s learned during his time with the Formula 1 team to good use by working on various global research and development projects.
Honda chief officer for brand and communications operations, Katsuhide Moriyama, says it was important to split the role that Hasegawa performed to allow better focus and direction for the team moving forward, particularly as they now move to a new team in the form of Toro Rosso in 2018.
“In the past, the head of F1 project assumed responsibility in both technological development and directing the team at the spot of racing,” said Moriyama.
“By separating these areas of responsibility, we will evolve our structure so that both the development team and racing/testing team can assume their respective responsibilities more speedily.
“By ensuring both the development team and racing team soundly fulfil their respective roles, Honda will continue its challenges so that fans can enjoy seeing Toro Rosso-Honda competing at the top level without further delay.”