The Japanese automaker, with a heavy history in the category, currently supplies engines to the Red Bull and Alpha Tauri teams.
The Japanese automaker Honda, which supplies engines to the Red Bull and AlphaTauri teams, announced in a statement on Friday that it will withdraw from Formula 1 at the end of the 2021 season. To explain its surprise departure, the Asian manufacturer relies on the decision to face new goals in terms of the production of carbon neutral engines and thus fulfill in 2050 with the commitment assumed by the company after the Paris Agreement to fight against global warming.
Honda lived through its glory hours in Formula 1 at the end of the 1980s with the fierce rivalry between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna aboard the two McLarens powered by unsurpassed Japanese engines. With that unparalleled power, the Frenchman and the Brazilian battled each other for the world title while the rest settled for barely fighting for third place in the championship.
Between 2006 and 2008, the Japanese firm decided to become a team. But the adventure not only lasted too little, but was unsuccessful.
So Honda decided to move away from the peak for a while to return only in 2015, again in the role of engine supplier. The return for the Japanese group was not easy: lived three extremely difficult seasons associated with McLaren between 2015 and 2018. He could never find the expected results with his hybrid turbo V6.
However, already with Red Bull and Alpha Tauri Honda, Honda returned to success, albeit under the shadow of Mercedes: it recorded five Grand Prix victories in the last two seasons.
This decision by Honda to leave Formula 1 puts the Red Bulls, and their subsidiary team AlphaTauri, in an embarrassing situation, who must look for a new engine for the 2022 season, a date that coincides with the implementation of a new regulation that threatens to put Mercedes’ overwhelming dominance at risk since 2014.
“We understand and respect the reasoning behind this decision,” Chris Horner, the Austrian-based skipper of the team, said in a statement.
“His decision presents us with challenges, but we are well prepared and equipped to respond effectively, as we have proven in the past,” he added.
The team owned by the world-renowned energy drink firm had ended its collaboration with Renault on bad terms at the end of the 2018 season to start a partnership with Honda.
From 2010 to 2013, with an engine from the French firm, the Austrian team had achieved four constructors ‘world champion titles and four drivers’ world crowns for the German Sebastian Vettel.
Red Bull will have to quickly find a satisfactory solution to hope to retain its prodigy, the Dutchman Max Verstappen, considered one of the fastest drivers in the championship and who has managed to win the Honda engine.
This withdrawal may also have heavy consequences for Formula 1. It is that only Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault would remain as the only suppliers of engines of the premier class in 2022. An oligopoly that goes against the will of the American group Liberty Media, category owner, constantly trying to attract new guests.
You’ll make it? Hence, for example, the decision arises to reduce the teams’ budgets within two years, a measure fought to the extreme by Ferrari and Mercedes, the two giants of the category.
“In 2015 we started this challenge with the goal of winning the best four-wheel race in the world with our own technology,” Honda said.