Sitting at home on a Sunday evening, I watched Oliver Panis win the enthralling '96 Monaco Grand Prix with a Mugen-Honda powered Ligier. I imagined that this win would be enough for the executives at Honda to sit up and take notice of the feat.
However I was wrong.
The automobile industry was booming and F1's popularity in Asia was slowly creeping up. It was arguably the perfect time for Honda to re-join the F1 Fraternity. Honda did not seize the opportunity and Mugen-Honda continued to supply engines the subsequent years.
It was when the Jordan F1 Team achieved the much renowned 1-2 finish at the '98 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa that the executives from Honda were enlightened. They realised that they were missing out on the fame and the technology associated with F1.
Honda decided to enter F1 as a Factory team but relented. They instead ended up supplying engines to BAR in 2000. But since their much-heralded return to F1 not everything went their way.The progress of the BAR team was plagued by sleazy politics within the top management of the team.
After six frustrating years with BAR, Honda had very little to show and were now desperate for success. Honda decided to obtain 100% ownership of BAR from British American Tobacco.
Unfortunately that failed to turn around the fortunes of the team. Despite having one of the biggest budgets in F1, the cars that rolled out from the factory lacked in performance which resulted in them languishing at the back of the pack.
Clearly the employees at Brackley were lacking stability and more importantly a leader to look up to for guidance and motivation. Over the winter Nick Fry the CEO orchestrated a deal with Ferrari F1 mastermind Ross Brawn which would see him take charge of designing, manufacturing and engineering the team’s Formula One operation.
Brawn immediately got down to work by imposing his influence on the team. He restructured the team personnel and accentuated his focus on the 2009 season.
After recognising the pitiful performance of the 2008 challenger he ceased channeling any of the teams efforts on it.
With the sweeping rule changes imminent in 2009, Honda was one of the few teams to kick start their preparations very early in the 2008 season.
They used some of the 2008 test mileage to validate the much awaited KERS. The team was now much more streamlined , motivated and raring to go under Brawn.All was set to catapult Honda to top in 2009.
And then the unprecedented happened.The dismal 2008 season clubbed with the uncertainty of the financial crisis led to Honda's withdrawal from the sport leaving the teams future in doubt.
Behind closed doors several negotiations were on. Eventually Ross Brawn along with the rest of the management team struck a deal to buy out the orphaned Honda F1 Team.
Recent testing times suggest that the car definitely has the speed to pose a threat to the top three.I have to admit that the BGP001 is the most beautiful car out there on track and I wish that this rejuvenated team manage to find sponsors to secure its long term future.
Ross Brawn's brainchild, BGP001, definitely looks on course to storm the F1 world on the 29th of March and provide us a fascinating season of racing!