Honda won. Or at least its engine. In Formula 1 with Max Verstappen, 30 years after Ayrton Senna’s last success, and that’s enough material for a book. However, it puts an end to it on a grand scale, because the Tokyo manufacturer has already decided to give up the world of four wheels. After all, the relationship between Honda and Formula 1 has always been one of saying goodbye and returning (not always successful), unlike the world cycling championship.
HRC on two wheels is a guarantee … as well as a battleship. The most successful team that returned to the GPs in 1979 with the legendary, technological but ultimately unsuccessful NR 4-stroke oval piston and again became world champion in 1983 with the NS 3-cylinder 2-stroke with Freddie Spencer. The manufacturer with the greatest resources (technically and economically), a true benchmark.
Or rather, because Honda doesn’t have much to smile about in MotoGP at the moment. Exactly where it is involved on the front line, because after all, in Formula 1, the fact that Verstappen won with the engine of the Japanese manufacturer is relatively little known, while the name Red Bull (the energy drink that has become the team) ) is on everyone’s lips. Even when you think of Senna, you think of McLaren, certainly not Honda. That is the state of affairs.
In the MotoGP World Championship, however, things look different and so the defeat hurts even more. And yet the Japanese can learn a lot from four wheels, because what they lack on two wheels is first-class management. Red Bull has proven throughout the season that it has Napoleon-worthy strategists in its ranks, not to mention that Max is a family gem.
In MotoGP, on the other hand? It’s all on Marc Marquez’s shoulders and when he’s not around … he’s in trouble. It is not for nothing that the Japanese giant has shown in the last two seasons that he has very fragile legs and that three victories (in two years) can only be owed to the champion from Cervera. It makes sense that the team was built around the phenomenon, but a plan B should always be in place. Instead, Honda has become almost insignificant without Marc.
Two numbers: in 2020, Honda finished 5th in the constructors ‘championship (just before Aprilia) and 9th in the team championship (also behind the LCR satellite team), while this year it was 4th in the manufacturers’ championship and 6th in the championship . Took place in the teams. The improvement was solely due to Marc’s reappearance, albeit not full-time. Proof is the fact that despite having taken part in 4 fewer races, he was the best placed Honda rider in the World Championship in 7th place, with Pol Espargarò (the only one other than himself on the podium) 12th and Nakagami and Alex Marquez 15th and 16.
It is crystal clear that there is a big problem. Let’s be clear that it is also technical in nature, but on this point the Japanese have already made amends by revolutionizing the bicycle for 2022. Otherwise, however, they are continuing on the well-trodden path.
Starting with a lack of communication. Now that Marquez is in trouble again (with diplopia) the strategy is the one they’ve already tested for his arm: the less said the better. With the promise of an update before Christmas as if it were a gift to the world. After all, the statements made often do more harm than hail, so silence could be the lesser of two evils.
At least from a driver management perspective, we expect a little more from Honda. Having managed to retire Pedrosa and Lorenzo in quick succession (they quickly looked elsewhere than test riders), their moves in the market were questionable to say the least. signing Alex Marquez Maybe it was a good idea back then, but transferring him to LCR after a year ruined what was good before. Nakagami seems to have a ride now just thanks to his passport than anything and poaching Pol Espargarò from KTM hasn’t brought great results either.
While all other manufacturers came into the market to snatch or keep close to the best young riders (Suzuki with Mir, Yamaha with Quartararo, Ducati with Bagnaia, Martin and Bastianini, KTM with Oliveira and Raul Fernandez), they stuck with Honda Relying on the usual Marquez. With the result that with Marc injured last year, he was the only substitute Stefan Bradl.
The hope for 2022 is that Marc is ready to rock from the first tests, otherwise Honda may find itself in the same situation as 2020, with no real alternative to its champion and with the possibility of another season on its back foot. Not to mention, at the same time, they have to take a step for 2023 by trying to poach a top rider from the competition, with me as the first target, unless there are surprises from the Quartararo camp.
Everyone is on the test bench for HRC management, so it might not be a bad idea to take inspiration from Formula 1 after all.