The Formula One World Championship has seen iconic teams and names from around the globe compete for glory over the decades. While European names such as McLaren and Ferrari have historically dominated the grid, several Asian teams have also made their mark, bringing a unique blend of innovation, talent, and success to the sport. Asian Motorsport delves into the history and contributions of some of these Asian teams.

By Seb Tirado

Honda Racing

Honda has a long history in Formula One, making its debut as a constructor in 1964. Their initial foray lasted only until 1968, with two wins and two further podium finishes in those four years. Honda returned as an engine supplier from the 1983 British Grand Prix, partnering with Spirit Racing for the rest of the season and then with Williams at the final race of the year in South Africa. They then embarked on a full-season campaign with Williams from 1984 onwards, which resulted in multiple championships with them as well as McLaren during the 1980s and early 1990s.

Rubens Barrichello driving the RA106 during the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix | Credit: MorioCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In 2006, Honda returned as a full-fledged team, acquiring the BAR team, whom they had been an engine supplier for since 2000. Despite scoring a podium in their second race in Malaysia, Honda had an overall lacklustre start to their season. Nevertheless, Honda would secure a memorable victory at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix with Jenson Button. They then scored another podium at the final race in Brazil with Button, going on to finish fourth in the Constructors’ Championship. However, limited further successes and the global financial crisis led to Honda’s withdrawal at the end of 2008.

Toyota Racing

Toyota entered Formula One in 2002 with high expectations, backed by one of the largest budgets in the sport. However, despite this significant investment, the team struggled to achieve consistent success in their first few years. Their best result came in 2005 when they finished fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, with drivers Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher achieving a total of five podium finishes between them.

Ralf Schumacher driving the TF105 during the 2005 Canadian Grand Prix | Credit: TMWolfCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Toyota would have a solid 2006 season with Schumacher picking up a podium in Australia, but would have an underwhelming 2007 season, despite their customer team Williams finishing fourth in the Constructors’ Championship. Toyota would go on to score further podiums and good Constructors’ Championship finishes in 2008 and 2009. However, the global financial crisis and their lack of true success led Toyota to withdraw from Formula One at the end of 2009.

Super Aguri F1

Super Aguri, founded by former driver Aguri Suzuki, entered the sport in 2006 with a fraction of the budget compared to its competitors. Utilising Honda engines and support, Super Aguri’s most notable achievement came in 2007 when Takuma Sato finished sixth at the chaotic Canadian Grand Prix, finishing ahead of reigning two-time World Champion champion Fernando Alonso.

Takuma Sato driving the SA07 during the 2007 British Grand Prix | Credit: Rob SnellCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Financial difficulties plagued the team throughout their time in Formula One, and they withdrew from the sport ahead of the fourth round of the 2008 season in Turkey.

Lotus/Caterham

Despite being named after British car companies, Lotus and Caterham represented Malaysia’s ambitions in Formula One. The team was rebranded as Caterham in 2012 after a legal dispute over the Lotus Racing and Team Lotus names they had used in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Despite the substantial backing of Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes, the team never scored points in Formula One, only achieving best finishes of 12th under their Lotus guises and 11th as Caterham.

Kamui Kobayashi driving the CT05 in Singapore | Credit: MorioCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Caterham’s financial struggles in 2014 culminated in the team missing the United States Grand Prix and the Brazilian Grand Prix before entering administration after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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