PEOPLE: OSAMU GOTO

Name: Osamu Goto
Nationality: Japan

A student of mechanical engineering at Tokyo's Metropolitan College of Aeronautical Engineering, Goto graduated in March 1970 and a month later joined the exclusive band of engineers in the research department of the Honda Motor Company. In the early years at Honda, Goto was a specialist in exhaust emissions, notably with the Honda Civic model destined for the United States market. By 1974 he had become leader of Honda's Exhaust Emissions development group.

He would remain in the mainstream of Honda for the next 10 years, moving on to work in a variety of engine development programs. In 1984 - as Honda was beginning to take a serious interest in Formula 1 - he was promoted Chief Engineer and joined the Honda racing team to develop the 1.5-liter turbo. A year later he became Racing Team leader.

Honda's relationship with Williams was reaching fruition and in 1986 Goto led the Honda engineering team to its first World Constructors' Championship victory in four-wheeled racing. It was the beginning of a remarkable run of success. In 1987 Williams-Honda again won the Constructors' title and Nelson Piquet became the first World Champion to use Honda engines. Between them, Piquet, team-mate Nigel Mansell and Lotus's Ayrton Senna gave Honda eleven wins. The success led to Goto being put in charge of all F1 engine development - notably the remarkable normally-aspirated Honda V10 engine.

At the end of 1987 Honda left Williams to start a new relationship with McLaren. It would be one of the most successful packages in racing history, combining the engineering brilliance of Honda and McLaren and the driving skills of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. The result was 44 victories in 74 races - Senna collecting 30 wins, Alain Prost 11 and Gerhard Berger three. McLaren-Honda won the Constructors' titles in 1988-89-90-91, giving Honda a run of five consecutive Constructors' Championships.

At the end of 1991 - McLaren's Ron Dennis decided that he wanted Goto at McLaren and he was recruited as Executive Engineer. What he actually did for the next two years with McLaren was never fully explained. McLaren's partnership with Honda ended at the end of 1992 and, after a year working with the Ford HB engine and dabbling with a Chrysler program, the old team began to break up: Senna signed to race for Williams-Renault and Goto went home to Japan to be a director of a company called Tokyo R&D. This role lasted only a month before Goto headed off to Italy to join Ferrari as its head of engine research and development. At the start of 1997 he was recruited to be head of the engine department of Sauber Petronas Engineering AG. Since the BMW takeover of Sauber he has established his own engineering consultancy.

Print