Having produced the V12-engined RA301 for the 1968 season, political pressures within Honda also led to the development of a radical new V8-engined car.
The RA302 incorporated magnesium components to reduce its weight. But when John Surtees tested the car he was alarmed at its poor handling and reliability.
Surtees refused to drive the car, but when he arrived at Rouen to contest the French Grand Prix he was surprised to see the team fielding a second entry for Jo Schlesser, driving an RA302. The race was run in heavy rain, and on the second lap Schlesser’s car went off the track and exploded, killing him.