Honda says it has no regrets about its decision to pull out of Formula 1 at the end of last year, despite seeing the Brawn GP team go on to capture both World Championships.
The Japanese car maker felt that the worldwide financial crisis meant it could no longer continue funding an F1 program, and it withdrew from the sport in early December. That left the Brawn team facing a fight for survival, and it only made it onto the grid thanks to a financial injection from Honda.
Despite the fact that the withdrawal decision saved little money in the short term and failed to see it capitalise on Brawn's 2009 success, Honda's president and CEO Takanobu Ito insisted his company had still done the right thing.
Speaking to Autoweek, Ito said: "[I have] no regrets. After our withdrawal, we've seen our team doing extremely well. The reason why I say this is because of all the efforts we put into the team prior to our withdrawal that led to this result."
Ito believes the fact that Brawn has made a success of this season has actually made Honda's decision to quit easier to justify.
"Usually when we decide to withdraw our team from Formula 1 racing, there are fights and anguishes ... fortunately the team has succeeded. It has produced very good results, so people seem to be very happy which is quite unusual.
"Honda is very proud of the fact that we were able to make such a smooth withdrawal based on a very well-thought out plan.... I think we did very well with the withdrawal and after the withdrawal; we managed very quickly to inject all our resources into environmental technology development. [We are] very proud the management was so speedy in making this change."
Ito said the decision to withdraw from F1, made by his predecessor Takeo Fukui, was justified by the financial crisis and the environmental considerations that Honda needed to make.
"Just a year ago, Mr. Fakui made the decision to withdraw from Formula 1 racing and I think it was the correct decision," Ito said. "We do love Formula 1 racing, but even more than that, we had to think about our company; following the [worldwide recession] our management environment had truly deteriorated, also due to the need to comply with environmental needs, [which meant] we had to develop new technologies. So this came first.
"I can surely say the few hundreds of people that were working on Formula 1 and the tens of billions of yen used for Formula 1, this has been converted to the development of environmental technologies."