Honda has expressed interest in the Formula E racing series and has already held initial talks with series boss Alejandro Agag. However, the Japanese’s entry will probably be possible for the 2020/21 season at the earliest.
Japan is an important market for electric vehicles. In Formula E, however, Nissan is the only Japanese carmaker represented – and only that since this season. Despite the best efforts of the Formula E boss Alejandro Agag, there has not yet been a World Championship round of the electric racing series in Japan. Nor has there been a top Japanese driver who has competed for an entire season.
But the race could soon see a second big manufacturer from Japan: In the course of the market launch of the Honda e, the carmaker’s managers are apparently also looking for a new goal for the company’s motorsport activities. Honda has been said to being in talks with Formula E for some time. Now a manager has confirmed that talks are underway. “As Honda we have talks with Alejandro Agag. We’re always keeping an eye on the category,” Honda Formula 1 Managing Director Masashi Yamamoto told motorsport.com.
“Formula E is done inside of cities, as a street race, and it’s kind of like advertising using racing, rather than pure [traditional] racing,” Yamamoto said. “There are many Honda customers who are interested in our electric cars so it’s good to appeal to them.”
According to Yamamoto, it’s not just about the marketing effect. “And there must be the technology we can take away from the races to the road cars,” he said. “That’s the reason we have an interest.”
But the Japanese company are not totally sold on the idea yet. They want to concentrate on Formula 1. “If Honda races, we have to win. We have to reach a certain level to be satisfied in this category,” says Yamamoto. In early July, a car with a Honda engine won a Formula 1 race for the first time since re-entering the race in 2015. Yamamoto did not say when Honda might feel like a decisive competitive edge can be put into action.
In addition, there is another hurdle that surfaces with Formula E: the number of teams is limited to a maximum of 12. But this number will be reached with Porsche’s entry in the coming season. Honda would, therefore, have to ally itself with an existing team. And there are only two of them left, which are not factory teams: Dragon Racing and Envision Virgin Racing. The latter, however, are bound by a long-standing partnership with Audi.