Tag Archives: Button

Transverse Success – Honda RA 272

13 years after it’s foundation in 1949 Honda Motor Company moved into the production of it’s first S360 micro sports cars in June 1963.

A month earlier Soichiro Honda set his Research and Development engineers to work on a 1.5 litre / 91.5 cui 60 ° V12 motor for use in a Formula One application.

Honda RA272, Goodwood Festival of Speed

It would appear that after a deal fell through to work with Lotus the engineers, who had become world champions in Motorcycle Racing, used a 1961 Cooper in their possession as the starting point for an all new RA270 chassis.

This gold prototype tested, but never raced, by Jack Brabham in 1964 was notable for a transverse mounted engine and for having 12 exhausts coming straight out of the back.

Honda RA272, Goodwood Festival of Speed

At the 1964 German Grand Prix Honda made their Formula One debut with the RA271 driven by American Ronnie Bucknum, which still had a transverse mounted V12, but conventional exhaust manifolds with two tail pipes.

Ronnie qualified 22nd and was classified 13th despite having an accident after completing 11 laps of the scheduled 15 lap race, Ronnie retired from both the Italian and US Grand Prix later in the season.

Honda RA272, Goodwood Festival of Speed

For 1965 the Honda engineers Yoshio Nakamura and Shoichi Sano kept the transverse mounted V12 which was said to produce 230 hp at 13,000 rpm.

American BRM refugee Richie Ginther joined Ronnie Bucknum in the team.

Honda RA272, Gabriele Tarquini, Goodwood Festival of Speed

After the team missed the season opening South African Grand Prix and recording two retirements at Monaco, Richie scored the team’s first World Championship point with a sixth place finish at Belgian Grand Prix after starting 4th on the grid.

At the French and British Grand Prix Richie two more retirement and with the team now running just the one car he finished 6th in the Dutch Grand Prix from third on the grid.

Honda RA272, Gabriele Tarquini, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Honda missed the German Grand Prix but came back with cars for Richie and Ronnie for the remaining three races of the season.

Richie finished 14th and 7th in Italian and the United States Grand Prix where Ronnie retired and was classified 13 respectively with both drivers suffering from ignition issues.

Honda RA272, Goodwood Festival of Speed

However at the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix, the last of the 1.5 litre / 91.5 cui era it all came good for Honda when Richie qualified 3rd and Ronnie 10th.

Against the form of British drivers and British built cars from Lotus and BRM winning the previous nine races of the season Richie came through for the win and Ronnie came home in fifth place.

This race would remain Richie’s only victory in Formula One and remarkably the Honda team have added only two more Formula One victories as constructors to that total, at the Italian Grand Prix with John Surtees in 1967 and with Jenson Button in 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Former Italian Formula One Driver and Honda works world touring car driver Gabriel Tarquini is seen at the the wheel of Richie Ginther’s #11 Mexican Grand Prix winning car at Goodwood Festival of Speed last year.

Thanks for joining me on this “Longitudinal Success” edition of “Gettin a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Maserati Monday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !

19/04/15 Thanks to Tim Murray for pointing out that the RA 272’s kept the transverse mounted engine layout for 1965.


There Will Be Changes – McLaren Mercedes MP4-28

Going into their 48th consecutive season of the Formula One World Championship McLaren had a record of winning 8 Constructors Championships and 30 top 3 finishes in the World Constructors Championship, so coming off a 2012 season which included 7 race victories and a 3rd place finish in final championship standings behind the old foe Ferrari and young upstarts Red Bull it would have been a brave man who would bet that McLaren would not at least finish in the top 3 for the 31st time and at least score a race win or two.

McLaren Mercedes MP4-28, Button, British GP P2, Silverstone

Jenson Button, above, who had won the opening and closing races of the 2012 season was joined by young Mexican charger Sergio Perez, below, after Lewis Hamilton left the team, which had nutured him from a talented teenager to the 2008 World Drivers championship, for bigger bucks and the fresh waters at Mercedes Benz.

McLaren Mercedes MP4-28, Perez, British GP P2, Silverstone

The all new Mercedes powered MP4-28 was the work of a team led by Paddy Lowe incorporating new suspension with rear wishbones designed to manage rear tyre wear by adding camber to the rear wheels as the vehicles speed increased. The car flattered in pre season testing due to an incorrectly fitted suspension part that saw the cars ride height lowered to a level that proved unsustainable by the time the championship season started.

McLaren Mercedes MP4-28, Paffett, British GP P2, Silverstone

As a consequence for the first half of the season McLaren were struggling to maintain 5th place in the championship ahead of the similarly powered Force Indias, a team to which McLaren were supplying gearboxes. The low point of the season came when both cars failed to score any points at either the Canadian or British Grand Prix, breaking a run of 64 races in which McLaren had at least one car in the points going back to the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Test driver Gary Paffett is seen in the MP4-28 above during the Young Driver Test at Silverstone.

McLaren Mercedes MP4-28, Perez, British GP P2, Silverstone

By the season’s end the team’s best result was a single 4th place scored by Jenson Button in the final race of the season in Brazil, Sergio Perez manged a season high 5th place in India and for the first time since 1980 no McLaren driver had finished a season with at least one podium finish.

McLaren Mercedes MP4-28, Button, British GP P2, Silverstone

Unsurprisingly before the season had ended changes in the team were being announced, towards the end of the season it was announced the McLaren will use Honda motors form 2015 reforming an alliance that brought McLaren four World Constructors Championships and one drivers championship for Alain Prost and three for Ayrton Senna.

Technical director Paddy Lowe had already moved to Mercedes Benz where he has replaced Ross Brawn and was himself replaced at McLaren by Tim Goss, Sergio Perez was more or less fired and announced he would be joining Force India with McLaren’s test driver Kevin Magnussen replacing Sergio at McLaren.

Further changes are anticipated in the wake of the announcement that Ron Dennis has returned to the role of CEO at McLaren, having left that post in 2012 to focus on the role of Chairman. On his reappointment Ron was quoted as saying “There will be changes” and these are expected to include a newly defined role for incumbent CEO and Team Principle Martin Whitmarsh. Since Ron’s reappointment former Lotus F1 Team Principle Eric Boullier has been recruited to the role of Race Director.

To stay abreast of developments at McLaren visit their website linked here, official facebook page linked here and twitter feed linked here.

Thanks for joining me on this “There will be changes” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me for a look at an Edwardian vehicle designed as a law enforcement vehicle that turned out to be a race winner. Don’t forget to come back now !