Honda Formula E interest a seismic event

Honda’s Formula 1 engine chief Yusuke Hasegawa has hinted to Autosport that the Japanese manufacturer might be joining Formula E.

Hasegawa made the revelation during the Austrian Grand Prix weekend but admitted that any involvement from Honda would be further down the road.

So far we have no plans to join FE" in the short-term. Of course there are some possibilities we will join FE," he said. In the company some of the members want to join FE as well.

“As a technical point of view it is interesting but from a racing point of view it is not attractive yet.”

Jaguar, Renault and Audi have all joined the electric single-seater series, primarily due to the cross-over technology with road vehicles and being able to compete at the front on a budget around the tenth required for Formula One.

“When we are researching the activity, from a budget point of view FE is much lower than Formula 1 so far,” he said.

“So from a budget point of view it is possible. But it is more difficult to get engineers to do that.”

Given the autonomous race series RoboRace will be joining the support calendar for Formula E next season, there would certainly be some interest from Honda given the varied directions for autonomous technology in both RoboRace and the main Formula E series.

Hasegawa’s predecessor Yasuhisa Arai was heavily involved in the development of the Honda robot ASIMO, the marketing possibilities for Honda show enormous potential.

ASIMO needed to meet three criteria, namely: high-level posturing balance, external recognition of environmental changes, and generation of autonomous behaviour i.e. its actions are self-determined without the need for an operator.

Speaking with Arai-san last year, I asked whether it would be possible for a driver to drive a car – or even race car without the use of his or her limbs – by simply using the power of their mind. His answer was starting.

“The synapsis that happens between your brain – the sensors – is very similar to the algorithm of a [current Formula One] power unit” he said.

“The people who are working on the actual algorithm of the power unit may be able to think toward the brain and have a similar kind of understanding”.