How Corporate Culture Could Hinder Honda

Honda are certainly not unfamiliar with the pressure-cooker that is the Formula 1 paddock. Their struggles to adapt to life in the post-2014 formula has seen both them, and their partners at McLaren, face a barrage of difficult questions. This barrage has become more potent of late, as the team continue to languish towards the tail-end of the grid. While Honda have the resources and expertise required to win races and championships, such a turn-around will not simply be the work of a moment and McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier, has suggested that Honda should seek outside assistance. However, with such a proposition being a departure from typical practices at Honda, Boullier’s suggestions could be shelved.

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“If you are in F1 it is to do F1 – whether you are African, English or Japanese,” Boullier stated in an interview with motorsport.com. “If you are in F1, you have to do things the F1 way and at the standard of F1. Nothing else.”

In typical philosophical fashion, Boullier has underlined the importance of expertise. Regardless of the resource at Honda, additional minds with an in-depth knowledge of the current regulations and hybrid technology in general would surely be of benefit to speeding up the process of taking McLaren back to the top.

But herein lies the natural difference between engine manufacturers and their associated teams. An F1 team will inevitably strive to make their powertrain as competitive as possible, as quickly as possible, as success for them is defined by lap time and trophies. Meanwhile, success for an engine supplier is more complicated, as ultimately, F1 is a brand-exercise as much as a competition. Winning tends to be positive, but the means by which victories are achieved is also key in the final assessment.

As such, it is understandable if Honda would want to reach the top step of the podium without having had to call upon external assistance. Not only would it be a departure from Honda’s principals of finding solutions to problems in-house, but it would also remove part of the element of the F1-adventure which will see Honda engineers extend their knowledge of hybrid technologies, applicable of course, to their all-important road car projects.

McLaren, however, will want Honda to do everything they can to fast-track progress. The team cannot afford to spend too long fighting for scraps, having already endured a difficult few years since 2013. With Renault employing the services of Mario Illien to aid their endeavors, McLaren have evidence of rivals’ moves to try and improve.

Can they convince Honda to put corporate culture aside? Only people that are partial to meetings will know, but one thing that is for sure – improvement is necessary in order to make the aforementioned brand-exercise a success. This fact will play a part in future decisions.

Image Credit: "British GP 5 July 2015, Silverstone 034"
By Rob Dunckley (via Flickr) [CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0]
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