Honda boss says F1 programme won't impact WTCC campaign
|By Peter Mills and Matt Beer||Friday, April 11th 2014, 10:35 GMT|
Honda's return to Formula 1 next season will not have any impact on its World Touring Car Championship campaign, insists its touring car team chiefs.
The JAS-run works Honda WTCC effort has become the Japanese firm's premier European car racing programme during Honda's F1 absence, but it will be back in grand prix racing in 2015 as engine supplier to McLaren.
Honda's European motorsport chief William de Braekeleer insisted this would not put the WTCC entry in jeopardy.
"No, it doesn't have any impact," he told AUTOSPORT.
"It is two different programmes.
"F1 is really the big umbrella in motorsport. We see it like that.
"We just launched the WTCC programme. We didn't commit for a certain number of years, but obviously we didn't commit for two years only.
"At the moment we really don't have the end of the programme in sight."
De Braekeleer said Honda's decision to build an all-new car for the 2014 WTCC rather than adapting its existing Civic to the TC1 rules showed it was committed for the long term.
"We could have started the project modifying the existing car," he said.
"But then, with Honda, we decided to make an aggressive approach, because the life of the car is many years.
"We wanted to start with a white paper and design our best at that moment, also thinking about our customers."
Honda will be represented in the 2014 WTCC by factory drivers Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro, plus privateers Norbert Michelisz and Mehdi Bennani at the Zengo and Proteam squads respectively.
Follow the first races of the WTCC's new era as they happen with AUTOSPORT Race Centre Live's coverage from Marrakech, beginning 4pm UK time on Sunday April 13 - and watch video highlights on the AUTOSPORT WTCC page
This week's AUTOSPORT magazine includes in-depth features on Lada and Honda's 2014 WTCC programmes plus our pick of the drivers to watch this season