Honda to leave F1 after 2021 season

Honda has announced that will once again leave the Formula One world championship following the conclusion of the 2021 season.

The famed Japanese engine manufacturer returned to F1 in 2015 after a break of seven years, producing a new Hybrid Power Unit for the McLaren team it had previously enjoyed success with. Yet it took time for supplier to hone the new technology to win races, which it then did successfully with both Red Bull and, more recently Alpha Tauri with Pierre Gasly behind the wheel.

Against the might of Mercedes, five victories for the supplier is indeed a worthy achievement, so it comes as some surprise that Honda had announced its withdrawal just when things were seemingly gaining momentum.

In a statement released on October 2, 2020, Honda cited its reasons for leaving the sport as follows:

“As the automobile industry undergoes a once-in-one-hundred-years period of great transformation, Honda has decided to strive for the “realization of carbon neutrality by 2050.” This goal will be pursued as part of Honda’s environmental initiatives which is one of the top priorities of Honda as a mobility manufacturer.

“Honda will allocate its energy management and fuel technologies as well as knowledge amassed through F1 activities to this area of power unit and energy technologies and take initiatives while focusing on the future realization of carbon neutrality.  Toward this end, Honda made the decision to conclude its participation in F1.”

The statement went on to confirm that Honda will continue to supply Power Units for Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Alpha Tauri for this season and into the next, with the brand new Power Unit already being worked on.

“Motorsports activities are in Honda’s DNA, and therefore Honda will continue to be passionate about taking on challenges and striving to become No. 1 in all categories of racing in which Honda participates.

“In F1, in order to fulfil the expectations of its fans, Honda will work together with Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Alpha Tauri to continue competing with its utmost effort and strive for more victories all the way to the end of the 2021 season.”

The decision, of course, leaves both teams little time to find a new supplier after 2021 and almost certainly leaves former supplier Renault as the front runner because they currently have the fewest customers and have already formed a working relationship.

“On behalf of Honda, I would like to express our gratitude again to both Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri for enabling us to fulfill our ambitions of winning F1 races,” added Takahiro Hachigo/President, Representative Director and CEO of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. “Also, I would like to express our appreciation to the FIA, Formula One and many people who were involved for all the support they have given to Honda since we decided to compete in the F1.  And more than anything, we are grateful to our fans for their passionate cheering and encouragement for Honda. Thank you.”

Motorsport Technology