Honda announced its retirement from Formula 1 at the end of 2021 last week, citing the need to devote all resources “to achieving carbon neutrality by the end of 2050,” but Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko believes the main reason is financial.
Helmut Marko: “We should have cut costs earlier. In 2022, a new cylinder head is to be built so that the engine runs on 20% biofuel. In 2023, we must switch to 100% biofuel, and this will require a new engine. At the same time, nothing will change for the fans.
By next season, Honda will build a new engine to compensate for Mercedes’ performance gap in other areas as well. The problem with the current engine is that it gets to the cutoff too early. On the straight line, we lack power, and the longer the straight line, the greater the shortage.
An engine in 2022? I can say for sure that we will have some kind of motor. In Formula 1, they cannot afford to have Ferrari at the end of the peloton for a long time. In the case of Renault, we get an engine that they make in accordance with their needs, which means that we again have to compromise when building the chassis. The same story will be with Mercedes and Ferrari. The client gets what he is given.
To tinker with the engine on its own, you need to hire 50 new employees just to work on the hybrid part. Another problem is that in 2022 we will have to upgrade the engine for biofuel. We know how complex this whole technique is, so all of these factors need to be considered.
Leaving Formula 1? If we don’t find a competitive solution, then this might be an option.
The problem is that in the next four years, the new manufacturer will not come to Formula 1. Everyone was convinced that it is impossible to come and immediately create a competitive engine. The hybrid component is too complex.
Changing the engine regulations would be the best option, but what’s Mercedes’ interest in changing anything? They have the optimum propulsion system, they can tune the car for more downforce, with a huge power advantage. They will probably be against it.
Cyril Abiteboul probably doesn’t know whether to advocate for change or against it. Ferrari will certainly support the change. But we will not see anything new if we look for an option that will suit everyone. “