A successor to the Honda RA271, the RA272 was noticeable mainly for its technically advanced (though rather wide and heavy) 48-valve 1,495.28 cc V12 engine (58.1 x 47.0 mm), a water-cooled, transversely mounted unit which reportedly gave 230 bhp (170 kW) at 13,000 rpm. The engine was safe to 14,000 rpm, which was unusually high for a 1960s engine design.
For their second season in 1965, Honda signed Richie Ginther – who had scored multiple podium finishes and had a reputation for being a great test and development driver – to drive alongside Ronnie Bucknum.
The car made its debut at the second round of the season in Monaco. The race ended in a double retirement as the cars suffered gearbox and transmission issues. Ginther qualified fourth at the next race in Belgium, and finished the race in sixth to give Honda their first points finish in Formula One.
The next race in France ended with ignition problems for both drivers, after a best qualifying position of seventh by Ginther. At the following British Grand Prix, Ginther qualified an impressive third, just 0.5 seconds off pole position, but the race again ended up in a retirement, this time caused by injection issues.
Ginther leading the Dutch Grand Prix
Ginther once again qualified third at the Dutch Grand Prix. He shot into the lead for the first two laps, but eventually finished sixth to score more points.
The team didn't participate in the German Grand Prix, but returned for the next race in Italy. In Italy, Bucknum qualified sixth – ahead of Ginther – after not participating in the last three races, but both cars retired from the race with ignition problems. Ginther qualified third in the United States Grand Prix, but finished seventh.
The following Mexican Grand Prix was going to be the final race of the season and also the final of the 1,500cc era. Ginther again qualified third and after he took the lead on the first lap, led every lap to win the Grand Prix. Bucknum finished fifth to make it a double points finish. It was a historic moment, as it was the first Grand Prix victory for a Japanese team, car and engine. It was also Goodyear's first Formula One win.
The Honda RA272E V12 had staggering acceleration and often led the race into the opening lap after leaving the stationary starting grid. Despite not participating in every race, Honda finished their second season in Formula One sixth in the constructors' championship.
Honda's Type R cars traditionally have a Championship White paint option and a red Honda badge as a tribute to the RA272.