Honda’s F1 side now involved in ending its MotoGP “stagnation”
Honda continues to languish in second-to-last in the constructors’ standings ahead of only Yamaha, after both marques combined to score just three points from the recent British Grand Prix weekend.
HRC has scored a victory in 2023 courtesy of Alex Rins at the Americas GP, but this has so far proven to be an outlier result, with the Spaniard’s riding style masking the RC213Vs issues on the COTA layout.
But Rins has now signed for Yamaha for 2024, having felt underutilised by Honda, while factory team pair Marc Marquez and Joan Mir have just 20 points between them in an injury-hit campaign.
Since 2022, the racing division – HRC – has overseen both Honda’s two-wheel activities and four-wheel exploits, which includes its engine supply of the Red Bull and AlphaTauri Formula 1 teams.
In a recent interview, Watanabe said the four-wheel side’s integration has progressed to a point where it will now work with the MotoGP team to boost its form.
“Inside Honda the cultures of two-wheel and four-wheel are quite different,” Watanabe began.
“Therefore, we started with the understanding that it would be somewhat challenging to work together as a company.
“In fact, it took the entire first year to complete the integration because everything was different, such as operation, structure, purchasing systems, etc.
“In the second year, we are beginning to make progress in the collaboration between the two-wheel and four-wheel categories.
“Presently, the stagnation of MotoGP is a major issue for Honda/HRC, so we have determined to regain our strength with an all-HRC structure.
Koji Watanabe, Honda Racing CEO
Photo by: Motorsport.com / Japan
“To this end, the four-wheel development team is involved in MotoGP development, and is moving to produce tangible results as soon as possible.”
Watanabe added that the model operated by the two-wheel side of HRC is now bleeding into the four-wheel division, which he believes “will produce something even greater than we initially expected”.
“Two-wheel has a long history as a racing company, so we know races and race operations,” he added.
“Two-wheel also has established a business model where HRC makes race parts and delivers them via dealers for users. The four-wheel business is just beginning to develop this aspect.
“There is much to learn from motorcycles in terms of such know-how. In that sense, I am convinced that the collaboration between motorcycles and automobiles will produce something even greater than we initially expected.”
Honda’s miserable 2023 MotoGP campaign has led to speculation about Marquez departing for a KTM-backed team in 2024.
Marquez himself noted at the British GP that his “intention” is to see out his Honda contract, while KTM has so far been blocked from expanding into the grid slots vacated by Suzuki.
The struggles of both Honda and Yamaha in 2023 have led Dorna Sports to consider reintroducing concessions to aid their recovery.