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27 February 2007

Honda F1 Racing unveil new Look for 2007

Honda leads Formula One’s green revolution

The Honda Racing F1 Team today unveiled a radical new approach to Formula One.

Launched at the Earth Gallery in London’s Natural History Museum, Honda’s 2007 challenger, the RA107, will feature no commercial logos at all, replacing them with a giant image of the Earth. It is an approach that is certain to rewrite the rule book in terms of sponsorship and communication, while drawing attention to one of the greatest challenges facing the world – climate change and environmental responsibility.

Honda has always been a pioneer – a forward-thinking company that has never shied away either from technical challenges or from its corporate responsibilities. And now Honda will showcase these two core philosophies in the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship.

There are few platforms as effective at communicating with a global audience as that offered by Formula One.

“F1 is a hugely powerful communication device with audience and global reach only behind that of periodic sporting events such as the Olympics and the World Cup,” says Nick Fry, Chief Executive Officer of Honda Racing F1 Team. “We believe that F1 with its huge global profile and cutting edge technology can play an important role in not only highlighting the issues but also playing our part in developing solutions.”

Honda will harness this power to raise awareness of climate change among the 150+ million viewers of each race, taking place every two weeks. Indeed, such is the reach of the sport around the world, that it is estimated that if just 1% of F1 viewers turned their computer off at the plug overnight, this would save 45,000 tonnes of CO2., more than three and a half times the annual carbon emissions of the entire Honda Racing F1 Team.

Motor sport’s governing body, the FIA, has already announced its desire to see F1 play a major role in the development of new energy-saving technologies and this bold initiative by the Honda Racing F1 Team is by far the clearest endorsement of the FIA’s progressive strategy.

“Climate change is probably the single biggest issue facing the global community and F1 is not immune from it,” continues Fry. “The FIA recognises the opportunity for F1 not only to raise awareness, but also to showcase innovative technologies for the benefit of society for the long term. For example, by 2009, devices for energy recovery will be in place on the cars.”

It is entirely appropriate that it should be Honda taking the lead with this ground-breaking approach and the credibility is all the stronger coming as it does from a company that has always made great efforts to contribute to the preservation of the environment in all aspects of its corporate activity.

While many have only recently started responding to growing concerns regarding environmental issues, Honda has always striven to minimise its impact on the environment. Indeed, running alongside his desire to test his products at the forefront of international competition, conservation was also one of the core values laid down by company founder Soichiro Honda who never stopped emphasising a deep-seated desire for his organisation to embrace what has now been termed ‘social responsibility’.

As early as 1964, Mr Honda dictated that his company would manufacture only four-stroke marine engines. Though more expensive to produce, four-strokes are around 90 per cent cleaner, 50 per cent more fuel-efficient and far quieter than typical two-stroke outboard motors. Even more importantly, four-stroke motors don’t discharge oil directly into the water.

"Because water raises the rice, and fishes live in the water, I don’t want to contaminate it,” explained the visionary Mr Honda.

It’s a philosophy he embedded into the company and, as a result, Honda has always striven to be a company that manufactures products with the highest environmental performance, at manufacturing plants with the lowest environmental impact. Over the ages this mantra has manifested itself in virtually everything that Honda has achieved and it’s this long-running history of environmental commitment that gives true credibility to the radical strategy being forged by the Honda Racing F1 Team.

In 1972 Honda introduced the first engine to meet the statutory Clean Air Act in the US and four years later it started a giant forestation programme by planting 250,000 trees around its factories. During the next decade Honda set up a research team to investigate improving fuel economy, which led to the creation of its celebrated VTEC engine technology combining higher power with reduced energy consumption at lower revs. In the 1990s, Honda was at the forefront of full-scale recovery and recycling programmes within the automotive industry and also established a series of new world records with its innovative solar-powered vehicle. By 1999, the Honda Insight was the first hybrid car to be available in both the USA and Europe and Honda is currently leading the way in the development of a new generation of hydrogen fuel cell cars, which emit only water, while its Civic GX was recently recognised by the Environmental Protection Agency as the cleanest internal combustion vehicle on the planet.

Honda has never stopped championing the benefits of mobility in supporting social systems and providing transportation, pleasure and comfort to people around the world. And just as it has always risen to competitive challenges on the race track, it has also risen to the environmental challenges produced by the use of its vehicles. Indeed, Honda engineers that are today being trained at the cutting-edge of F1 may in the future be using their skills and experience to design and develop environmentally-friendly sources of energy. To illustrate this direct linkage, Takeo Kiuchi whose expertise was key factor in the world championship successes of both Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna, was the project leader for development of Honda’s first hybrid power system and is now leading Honda’s research into alternative engine technology.

The Formula One team itself has already started to investigate ways to make a difference in-house at its factory in Brackley with a stated desire to work towards becoming a carbon positive organisation. A raft of new initiatives have been introduced following an environmental audit by Carbon Sense, a leading climate change and carbon emission consultancy.

“It’s amazing what you can achieve with just a little effort,” reported CEO Nick Fry, “By encouraging employees to turn off computers and lights at the end of the day, we’ve cut our weekly energy usage by six per cent. We are now looking into car share schemes and the possibility of having solar panels fitted to the roofs of the team’s motorhomes at the races.”

Of course, the primary objective for the Honda Racing F1 Team remains unchanged – winning races and world championships. But as the cars’ livery stimulates interest and debate around the world, so the team’s personality will begin to change and the roster of team partners will inevitably reflect this repositioning.

Honda Racing F1 Team has taken a massive step out on its own by removing all the commercial logos from its latest grand prix contender. Instead of being a 200mph billboard for advertisers, the aerodynamic shell of the two Honda RA107s being raced this season by Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button, will be adorned with a huge image of the Earth.

Whereas the traditional model of Formula One has offered on-car exposure in a straight return for sponsorship revenue, the Honda F1 Racing Team is revolutionising motor sport by removing all branding and adopting a licensing model with its partners who will be able to use it as a strong and evocative marketing tool.

“We believe that the initiative we launched today is not only a powerful call to action for the public but also an opportunity to partner with other like minded corporations,” says Fry. “It is clear that tackling the environmental challenge is a major issue in every Board Room from London to Tokyo, from Paris to New York and from Shanghai to Bahrain.”

Honda is rewriting the rule book and reinforcing its already industry-leading environmental credentials. It’s possibly the biggest shake-up the sport has ever seen.

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