Honda has confirmed the departure of Yusuke Hasegawa from its Formula 1 project as part of a restructuring of its management team ahead of the 2018 season.
After returning to F1 as an engine supplier in 2015 with McLaren, Honda will switch its allegiance to Red Bull B-team Toro Rosso for 2018 following three difficult seasons.
As part of its changes for 2018, Honda confirmed on Thursday morning that Hasegawa would no longer serve as its head of Formula 1 project after two seasons in charge, with the role being eliminated.
Honda’s F1 interests will be Toyoharu Tanabe, who becomes F1 technical director after previously working as senior manager of Honda Performance Development in IndyCar.
Tanabe also has significant experience working in F1, dating back to being Gerhard Berger’s engineer at McLaren-Honda in the early 1990s. Tanabe also served as Jenson Button’s chief engineer at BAR and Honda between 2003 and 2007.
“In the past, the Head of F1 Project assumed responsibility in both technological development and directing the team at the spot of racing,” explained Katsuhide Moriyama, Chief Officer for Brand and Communication Operations.
“By separating these areas of responsibility, we will evolve our structure so that both the development team and racing/testing team can assume their respective responsibilities more speedily.
“By ensuring both the development team and racing team soundly fulfill their respective roles, Honda will continue its challenges so that fans can enjoy seeing Toro Rosso-Honda competing at the top level without further delay.”
Hasegawa will remain within the Honda company upon the change in roles on January 1, taking up the position of executive chief engineer.
Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”
The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.
“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”
Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.