Honda reshuffles F1 leadership ahead of Toro Rosso switch

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Yusuke Hasegawa will leave his role as head of Honda’s Formula One project ahead of its new partnership with Toro Rosso in 2018.

Hasegawa took over from Yasuhisa Arai after the disastrous first year of Honda’s partnership with McLaren in 2015, but failed to help improve the Japanese manufacturer’s fortunes in 2016 or 2017. This season’s lack of performance and reliability broke an already strained relationship as McLaren severed its deal in favour of a new tie-up with Renault for next season.

Honda will stay on the grid with Toro Rosso, who will be its sole engine supply next year. In anticipation of that, Honda has split Hasegawa’s previous role as head of the F1 project — which put him in charge of both engine development in Sakura and the whole race operation — into new jobs.

Toyoharu Tanabe, who was formerly senior manager for Honda Performance Development, has been named F1 technical director, where he will focus primarily on the racing and testing operation at the circuit. Tanabe has previous in F1; he worked as an engineer for Gerhard Berger at McLaren and then as chief engineer for Jenson Button at BAR and Honda.

Yusuke Hasegawa is leaving his post as head of Honda’s beleaguered F1 operation Sutton Images

It is believed another role will be given to an operating officer in charge of HRD Sakura, who will “oversee research and development and the overall operation of races and testing.” Hasegawa, meanwhile, has been moved to the role of executive chief engineer for Honda R&D, part of its road car division.

It is hoped that, by splitting Hasegawa’s job in this way, Honda can avoid some of the delays which punctuated its tenure with McLaren.

A statement from Katsuhide Moriyama, chief officer of Honda’s Brand and Communication Operations, said: “In the past, the Head of F1 Project assumed responsibility in both technological development and directing the team at the spot of racing. By separating these areas of responsibility, we will evolve our structure so that both the development team and racing/testing team can assume their respective responsibilities more speedily.

“By ensuring both the development team and racing team soundly fulfill their respective roles, Honda will continue its challenges so that fans can enjoy seeing Toro Rosso-Honda competing at the top level without further delay. Thank you for your continuous support.”

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