Does Honda care about the world?

The Honda F1 team’s new livery has caused a bit of a stir.

I think it looks revolting. It ensures that this season will be one of the ugliest in history, with Renault’s multicoloured vomit-coloured livery, Ferrari’s funny slanted subliminal Marlboro non-descript barcode and, of course, Toro Rosso’s paint factory explosion.

Now Honda have only gone and taken the Earth, and re-moulded it into the shape of a Honda RA107. Yuk!

But for those people who aren’t just interested in a racing car’s colours, Honda’s sponsor-free livery has raised more than an eyebrow around the place. Friends of the Earth have been particularly critical, pointing out the hypocrisy of a gas-guzzling Formula 1 team trying to push forward an environmental agenda.

On the other hand, as Ollie White points out, isn’t it better for a Formula 1 team to try and promote an environmental cause? That’s better than nothing, right? After all, if they didn’t, Honda could be accused by Friends of the Earth of burying their heads in the sand.

I think Friends of the Earth are being a little bit too harsh. It’s easy to paint a picture of motor racing being a horrible, over-indulgent, carbon emitting, environmentally unfriendly sport.

But the reality is a good deal more nuanced. Some say the F1 teams are there just to sell cars. But it’s worth remembering that they make cars as well.

As such, much of the life-saving technology that is in everyday use in road cars is developed, improved or even invented by motor racing teams. Once upon a time, the technology we take for granted today was the cutting-edge in motor racing. So motor racing has probably saved countless lives.

The strangest thing about this all is the revelation that Formula 1 has been carbon neutral for a whole decade! This is news to me, which immediately makes me suspicious.

But I mean how can a sport be carbon neutral? Has Bernie Ecclestone been going around planting trees on behalf of each of the teams? And does it count the testing, air travel to long distance races, and suchlike? This revelation poses more questions than it answers.

This whole thing does kind of prove one cast-iron law about environmentalism: don’t open your big yap about the environment, or you’re bound to be exposed as a hypocrite.

(eg. Do Friends of the Earth go without electricity then? Don’t they realise that electricity use contributes to one third of carbon emissions — ten times more than air travel. This makes them hypocritical environmentally unfriendly scum!!1!etc.)

Perhaps the worst thing about Myearthdream is the fact that it is blatantly designed to disguise the fact that Honda have not managed to find a new sponsor since the enforced departure of Lucky Strike.

When rumours that Honda was thinking of changing its livery first surfaced I was a little bit disappointed. Honda were in a unique position, where the colours of their tobacco sponsor coincidentally matched with the team’s traditional colours. All Honda had to do was remove the ‘Lucky Strike’ logos and it would have been fine. (Remember the ‘Impossible Dream’ advert…)

And who would have minded that? Nobody would have accused Honda of being hypocrites, or jumping on the bandwagon, or even of being unable to find a sponsor. The environmental message may be a laudable aim, but Honda are taking a hell of a lot of stick for it.

And perhaps this is deserved. After all, this is the big idea of Simon Fuller — a man who, it is worth remembering, was responsible for S Club 7 and Pop Idol. The man has brought nothing but pain to this world. This is just his latest hare-brained scheme.

The problem was that he was hired by Honda to do something. He would have been better off doing nothing, and sticking with Honda’s traditional colours. But he would be out of a job then.


  1. Hey Duncan, that was a great post. Personally, I don’t mind the new Honda livery, but like you I too would have been happy with a white-based scheme with maybe a hint of red and black.

    As far as I can decipher, both F1 and WRC are completely carbon neutral. The FIA contribute to some tree-planting scheme, probably in South America, and they take into account the transportation of the teams around the world, testing and races etc…

    I’m a little disheartened it has taken this episode to make people realise this little known fact, but the FIA are to blame for that.

    And yeah, Fuller has a lot to answer for, and while this Honda thing is clearly not just a ‘Save the world’ campaign (Honda must be rubbing their hands together), I think every little helps and that Honda have been quite brave in what they’re doing.

  2. The FIA pay for trees to be planted in Mexico. I remember comments being passed on the amount of paper used to announce this fact in late 1997/early 1998. Find it strange that nobody else seems to remember it.

    Must dig out my old F1 Racing issues next time I visit my parents – think that’s where I saw it origionally.

  3. Didn’t there used to be a desert in North Africa? The planet looks positively lush on the Hondas.