Having used five engines in the first four days of testing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, Honda’s third year back in Formula One is not starting in the best way. Since this return to the sport, Simon has held an integral role within the team, working on developing and testing new engines for the McLaren team.
However, today he parted ways with the teams, as a spokesperson confirmed that he is on gardening leave (a process in which an employee is on suspension from work until the end of a notice period, while receiving full pay). It was also confirmed that his contract will end “some time this year”. This leaves the door open for Simon to re-join the sport, within another team, after this leave period is over.
This announcement came amid rumours that there were disagreements between Simon and other Honda team managers, regarding new ideas for the engines. However, the team failed to comment on this.
Simon previously worked with Ferrari as head of the engine department, playing an instrumental role in Kimi Raikkonen’s 2007 world championship win, before taking a role within the FIA, where his role involved investigated new environmentally friendly technologies.
This news comes just days after Honda boss Yusuke Hasegawa admitted he and the team were “worried” about whether reliability issues, which plagued the team throughout the first season test, would be fixed before the first race of the season.
McLaren team boss, Eric Boullier commented on this by saying the situation was simply “not good enough” and that there is “more work to be done in Japan” by the Honda team. He did add, however, that the problems are “fixable” despite their inconvenience during testing.
There has still been no announcement made as to whether Honda have found a “cure” for their engine woes, but they have announced that work is “proceeding day by day”.
It is understood that engine upgrades will be brought to the second test, beginning on March 7 at the Spanish Circuit de Catalunya. However, this test will be vital for Honda, after reports that McLaren team bosses are losing patients with their engine suppliers.
—Charlotte Andrews, Correspondent (Sports)