FAIL­URE”

With this mantra from Soichiro Honda in­form­ing his ev­ery move, Yusuke Hasegawa is the man charged with lead­ing Honda to F1 suc­cess

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

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 condence 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.

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