Arai set to be replaced as head of Honda F1 project

Honda's Formula One programme is set for managerial changes with current boss Yasuhisa Arai due to leave his role at the end of the month.

Honda announced the changes in a press release, with Yoshiyuki Matsumoto set to take over in a supervising role on April 1 and Yusuke Hasegawa taking over Arai's responsibility for the development, manufacturing and management of the F1 project on March 1. Arai will become senior managing officer of Honda R&D.

"Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has announced today its annual organizational and personnel changes, including Operating Officers and Directors' changes, effective April 1, 2016," the press release said. "In line with this decision, Honda has implemented changes in its managerial structure that oversees Honda's Formula One (F1) project.

"Honda Motor Co., Ltd will appoint a new Director role to oversee and supervise all F1 related undertakings to strengthen the organizational structure for Honda's F1 project.

"Yoshiyuki MATSUMOTO
・Senior Managing Officer and Director, Supervising Director of F1 Project, Honda Motor Co., Ltd
・President, Chief Executive Officer and Representative Director, Honda R&D Co., Ltd.

"Furthermore, in accordance with the organizational changes in Honda R&D Co., Ltd, Yusuke HASEGAWA has been assigned to replace Yasuhisa ARAI to oversee the development, manufacturing and management of the F1 project.

・Executive Chief Engineer and Head of F1 Project, Honda R&D Co., Ltd. As of March 1, 2016

"Yasuhisa ARAI
・Senior Managing Officer, Honda R&D Co., Ltd. As of March 1, 2016"

Honda struggled in its first year back in Formula One with an unreliable and underperforming power unit. On the first day of 2016 pre-season testing on Monday, McLaren reported improvements but it remains to be seen whether the revised Honda power unit will be enough to elevate the team back into podium contention.

"Honda is fully committed to the F1 project go forwards," Arai said. "With Yusuke Hasegawa the project is in safe hands and its future is secure."

Hasegawa added: "McLaren Honda had a tough 2015, but improved significantly during the season. I'm looking forward to this new chapter in 2016."

The management changes come after a long period speculation about the leadership of the Honda F1 project.