How Honda has revolutionised its younger driver programme

For the major time arguably since 2019, there’s a driver on the Powerful Formula grid who would possibly presumably perchance presumably be stated to procure a reasonable pathway to a Formula 1 seat: Honda and Red Bull junior Ren Sato.

The first corpulent member of the Red Bull junior scheme to force in Japan’s high single-seater sequence since Juri Vips in 2019, Group Goh rookie Sato has been handed a golden different to exercise Powerful Formula as a springboard to a return to the European stage.

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Nonetheless now not handiest is Sato’s early promotion a note of the aptitude Honda sees within the 20-300 and sixty five days-former. It’s moreover indicative of a novel approach the marque is taking in direction of all its younger drivers.

At 20 years former, Sato has been given the nod at an earlier stage of his profession than nearly your entire marque’s assorted drivers, even when it’s going to level-headed be renowned that Honda felt it used to be better for him to focal point on factual one category this 300 and sixty five days after he perceived to battle considerably to change support-and-forth between his two drives in Powerful Formula Lights and SUPER GT’s GT300 class closing 300 and sixty five days.

To this point, the hasten appears to be like love it used to be extra than justified, as Sato stormed to a front-row start for his first-ever SF start at Fuji Speedway. The bustle didn’t hasten in accordance to opinion as he used to be tipped steady into a inch on lap 1 after a depraved start, nonetheless the point used to be made however, and at Suzuka he made a sturdy recovery from 15th to decide a point for 10th space.

Sato has made a positive start to his season in Super Formula with Team Goh

Sato has made a sure start as a lot as his season in Powerful Formula with Group Goh

Pointless to reveal, whether or now not Sato will get a gamble to return to Europe is relying on what function of outcomes he would possibly presumably perchance make on-notice for the remainder of the season, nonetheless it’s particular the intent from Honda and Red Bull to originate up the pathway is there. And now not handiest that, your entire technique of deciding on which drivers hasten up, give up where they are or web the axe is moreover getting an overhaul.

The earlier approach of doing issues used to be easy, nonetheless somewhat blunt: pay for a driver to procure a seat, be that in a European junior category or on the home stage in Japan Formula 4 or Powerful Formula Lights, and wait and behold what function of outcomes are produced. If they are comely ample, the motive force strikes up; if now not, they both give up save or function approach for the next driver in line.

Now, Honda is taking a grand extra racy approach that ought to now not handiest lead to larger outcomes for the drivers themselves nonetheless moreover make certain that the Sakura marque doesn’t cease up by accident ‘missing’ a high skills thanks to a couple quirk now not explained by outcomes.

Beginning this 300 and sixty five days, Honda has began to inquire of for grand extra detailed options on its proteges from the a huge quantity of groups they are running with – now not handiest about their budge, nonetheless their approach of working, technical info and, where relevant, their potential to focus on in English.

Sato is working on his English in preparation for a second chance in Europe

Sato is engaged on his English in preparation for a 2d probability in Europe

This treasured info will not handiest will likely be former to function better selections about driver promotion, nonetheless moreover to increase the usual of the instruction that the marque’s future stars obtain decrease down the ladder within the Honda Racing College (formerly Suzuka Racing College) and the Honda Formula Dream Mission (HFDP) Japan F4 squad.

The commerce in branding from SRS to HRS is a transparent note of Honda’s increased involvement in knowing what to achieve with its bumper slash of younger drivers when it’s miles lucky ample to already procure a sturdy skills pool representing it in SUPER GT and Powerful Formula.

In Europe, there would possibly be Ayumu Iwasa in Formula 2 as smartly as closing 300 and sixty five days’s SRS graduates Souta Arao and Yota Nomura, whereas in Japan, following Sato’s hasten as a lot as Powerful Formula, next in line are Iori Kimura and Kakunoshin Ota, both of whom are racing in Powerful Formula Lights.

The increase sequence to Powerful Formula is one other space where Honda’s extra hands-on approach is viewed, with both Kimura and Ota running in largely HFDP liveries (yellow for Kimura, pink for Ota) with their respective groups, B-Max Racing and Toda Racing.



Report by: Masahide Kamio

Kakunoshin Ota, TODA RACING

Kakunoshin Ota, TODA RACING

Report by: Masahide Kamio

B-Max running an legit Honda junior for the major time in 2022 additional solidifies a relationship that used to be already bolstered by the group’s Powerful Formula driver Nobuharu Matsushita changing steady into a works Honda driver closing iciness. And the group proved to be the splendid match to produce a 2d cockpit with which to imagine the marque’s formative years.

Previously, there used to be factual one Honda-backed seat on hand in SF Lights (previously All-Japan F3) with Toda, which for a number of years persevered with its have self-constructed engine in opposition to the dominant TOM’S and Spiess items. The group at closing switched to Spiess engines closing 300 and sixty five days after some “encouragement” from Honda, and now adding B-Max to its roster of groups permits its drivers to be evaluated grand extra rather than used to be the case sooner than.

One stage below that in Japan F4, Honda is again supporting a three-automobile HFDP group this 300 and sixty five days. Shun Koide, who missed out on a SF Lights berth, spearheads the group, joined by a pair of finalists from closing 300 and sixty five days’s SRS consumption, Yusuke Mitsui and Kazuma Nishimura.

HFDP F4 trio Yusuke Mitsui, Kazuma Nishimura and Shun Koide

HFDP F4 trio Yusuke Mitsui, Kazuma Nishimura and Shun Koide

Pointless to reveal, there acquired’t be residence for all these drivers to procure works Honda seats in future; inevitably spirited selections will level-headed must be made. Nonetheless the unique approach ought to level-headed make certain that of us that fail to see promotions or are even dropped fully are given extra entire options about what exactly they had been judged to be missing, and what they must work on, as a replacement of simply being urged they didn’t obtain comely ample outcomes.

In that sense, Honda deserves credit score for now not handiest making particular it picks the absolute top drivers to hasten up, nonetheless moreover to permit of us that don’t function the reduce the absolute top probability of level-headed having comely careers as legit racing drivers.

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