Hirotoshi Honda: I understand Alonso’s great disappointment

Hirotoshi Honda, son of the founder of Honda Motor Company, has come out in sympathy for the plight suffered by Fernando Alonso over the past three years as the Japanese auto giant struggled to produce a fast and reliable Formula 1 engine.

Hirotoshi said in a recent interview, “I understand very well the reason for Alonso’s great disappointment. The professional life of a sportsman is very short and it is very stressful to lose three years at such an important time in his career.”

“Alonso is a young man, so intelligent and captivating. I understand very easily the reason for his great disappointment.”

Alonso was brazenly outspoken about the shortcomings of the Honda power units bolted to the back of his McLaren. When his patience ran out, notably towards the end of last season and most of this past year, he shot from the hip.

The word from the Honda factory, where pride has been severely dented by the Spaniard, is that staff are highly motivated to turn things around and ultimately show McLaren and particularly Alonso what they are capable of.

Hirotoshi warned, “I am sure of one thing: the Japanese have the culture of fighting in Formula 1. We are very well mannered, but we can fight.”

Asked what he felt went wrong with the Honda project, Hirotoshi explained, “Because I took away this guy!” (pointing to the man sitting next to him, Tomoyuki Hashimoto, president of Mugen and also a respected engineer.)

“I’m serious. He is an excellent engineer. He knows how to build an engine and the ones he has built testify to his technical expertise.”

Honda recently announced a major restructure to their Formula 1 programme, but Hashimoto does not feature among the new hierarchy.

In closing, Hirotoshi recalled the final days of his father Soichiro Honda, “He was a true fighter, he hated to be second and had to win. He always said, shortly before his death, when Ayrton Senna could no longer win with McLaren-Honda, my father complained about this situation from his hospital bed.”

“He died on 5 August 1991 (at the age of 84) and a few days later, on the 11th, Ayrton won the Hungarian Grand Prix wearing a black band on his arm. When we heard the news, my family and I cried,” revealed Hirotoshi.

For 2018 Honda will power Toro Rosso as McLaren chose to end their three-year ‘marriage’ and opt for Renault customer engines.

Big Question: Can Honda turn things around and become a winning force in Formula 1 again?