With this mantra from Soichiro Honda informing his every move, Yusuke Hasegawa is the man charged with leading Honda to F1 success
WORDS STUART CODLING PORTRAIT STEVEN TEE/LAT Button), and the IndyCar programme, was interpreted as a statement of intent.
As a team and as an engine supplier, Honda have used F1 as a proving ground for young engineers or as a means of refreshing the challenge for more experienced ones. Hasegawa himself was a ten-year veteran of road-car research and development before he transferred to Honda’s IndyCar engine programme.
“The speed, the challenge and the severity of the conditions were different from roadcar development,” he says. “It was a different challenge. For a young engineer it’s good to experience that type of job. Being involved in motor racing, the feel of it, is something Honda want to transfer to the road-car side, but it’s also about converting people who come through the racing programme. Racing has an effect on roadcar development. We don’t have a concept that says our road car engines should be like the F1 engine, but the racing experience becomes part of the organisation’s DNA. We don’t have a plan for everyone to go through F1, but if you want to do a particular job within Honda, it can happen.”
So although he won’t be drawn on a timeframe for Honda’s next great technological leap, and he certainly won’t talk yet in terms of race wins – except to say they are ‘a target’ – Hasegawa exudes a sort of quiet condence that the job is possible. After all, this is someone who signed up ‘to change the world’. So has he done that yet?
“Yes! In lots of areas,” he says. “I worked on the Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle project in California and we created a new fuel control system. After that, I joined our IndyCar project and we won the title in 1996. I enjoyed that.”
F1 is a greater challenge, but in Hasegawa the project has someone who has been there, done that, and learned the harsh lessons of six years with just one race win, plenty of failures – and, as per Soichiro Honda’s maxim, probably no little introspection. Success is long overdue.