The news that Honda is coming back to Formula 1 in 2015 is interesting in that it confirms that the new Formula 1 rules are attractive to the automobile industry — as was intended.
It means while the unambitious Formula 1 teams will be trying to do deals with the existing manufacturers and Honda, the more imaginative will be chasing around the world banging on the doors of the motor companies that have an interest in hybrid technology: the likes of Porsche, BMW, Toyota/Lexus, Hyundai, Chevrolet, Ford, Kia and so on.
Honda CEO Takanobu Ito said all that was needed during the launch: "As the direction of Formula 1's new technologies and the direction that Honda aims at for development matches, the young engineers who will be responsible for Honda in the future started to voice their desire to take part in the challenge. More so than in the past, we can expect feedback from the race cars to common road cars and vice versa."
And it is not just the car companies to watch out for, because the battery companies that supply the big automobile firms will also be looking to get a little publicity and business for their work by getting involved in F1.
In all probability the next title sponsor of McLaren will be a Japanese firm because in the past Honda’s partners in F1 have often been companies with which it does a lot of business. These days B2B is the key to successful Formula 1 sponsorships and so one should look at who is the principal supplier of hybrid batteries to Honda these days… The answer is Sanyo, which is today owned by Panasonic.
Oddly enough, Panasonic has just announced the establishment of Panasonic Mobile Communications Co, Ltd, specialising in the development, manufacturing and sales of mobile phone handsets including smartphones, which would be useful for Claro, which is to be a McLaren sponsor in the years ahead.
One can imagine that Panasonic might be able to do a fair amount of business with Claro, which is one of the four largest mobile phone network operators in the world and has more than 50 million customers in Central and South America.
They all need smartphones…