Six years after pulling out of the sport, Honda is once again making headlines in formula one for all the wrong reasons.
In the midst of an horror run of technical trouble as McLaren struggles to run the new works turbo V6, star driver Fernando Alonso looks set to spend a second night in hospital.
And with official explanations lacking, speculation the Spaniard’s crash on Sunday may have been caused by a KERS shock or leaking battery fumes will persist for now.
Spain’s AS sports newspaper said Alonso remains under observation in the Hospital General de Catalunya, with his discharge pending a further “series of tests”.
“The communications department of the hospital was planning an information notice at 2pm,” read the report, “but those surrounding the driver prefer that a public statement is only made when the results of the latest tests are known.”
With Alonso’s participation in the final Barcelona test now in serious doubt, manager Luis Garcia Abad also played down any suggestion the 33-year-old might have to miss the season opener in Melbourne.
“I do not think this is a serious problem 20 days before the championship begins,” Abad is quoted as saying.
“We are happy to say that he is ok.”
However, less encouraging signs were emerging from Japan on Monday.
Another Spanish daily, Marca, reports that a champion of Honda’s return to formula one, president and chief executive Takanobu Ito, will step down.
The report said Ito, an “architect of Honda’s return to formula one”, has succumbed to the pressure of a scandal that has cost the carmaker millions due to the need to recall road cars with faulty airbags.
“The Japanese (Ito) was present at all events and official presentations of McLaren-Honda in recent months,” said Marca, “and despite all the early problems with the new engine was among the most optimistic about the development of the project.
“Takanobu Ito was also one of the main supporters of the signing of Fernando Alonso,” the report added. (GMM)