I must have attended hundreds of press conferences across the years, but nothing compared to this one on Friday, September 4, 1987.
The scene is the garden of St Georges Premier, a restaurant made even more desirable by its setting, deep within the park at Monza. The location was chosen because it was neutral ground, away from the Formula 1 paddock. Our host, the Honda Motor Company, did not wish to insult Williams Grand Prix Engineering further by making public a decision to terminate the supply of engines. Frank Williams knew all about it, of course, but didn’t need reminding of how Honda planned to sever this technical collaboration one year early.
It had been a successful relationship in terms of performance but not, in Honda’s view, when it came to results. Williams had won the Constructors’ Championship in 1986, but Alain Prost and McLaren-TAG had nicked the drivers’ title at the final race. Honda saw its failure to claim the Drivers’ Championship for the first time as the result of Williams treating Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet equally – or, in Honda’s view, allowing the drivers to squabble among themselves. Even worse, Williams had resolutely refused to take on board a Japanese driver (Satoru Nakajima).