Formula 1
Formula 1
28 Mar
Event finished
R
Emilia Romagna GP
18 Apr
FP1 in
4 days
R
Portuguese GP
02 May
Race in
20 days
09 May
Next event in
24 days
23 May
Race in
41 days
R
Azerbaijan GP
06 Jun
Race in
55 days
13 Jun
Race in
63 days
27 Jun
Race in
76 days
04 Jul
Next event in
80 days
18 Jul
Race in
98 days
R
Hungarian GP
01 Aug
Race in
111 days
29 Aug
Race in
139 days
05 Sep
Race in
146 days
26 Sep
Race in
167 days
R
Singapore GP
03 Oct
Next event in
171 days
10 Oct
Race in
181 days
R
United States GP
24 Oct
Race in
196 days
31 Oct
Race in
203 days
R
Australian GP
21 Nov
Race in
223 days
R
Abu Dhabi GP
12 Dec
Race in
244 days

Why is Honda leaving F1 and which engine will Red Bull use?

On Friday Honda surprised the motorsport world by announcing that it will "conclude" its Formula 1 involvement at the end of the 2021 season.

The news leaves Red Bull searching for a new power unit partner for its two teams, Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri.

Who uses Honda engines?

After pulling out of the sport at the end of 2008 Honda returned to F1 in 2015, the second year of the current hybrid V6 regulations.

The manufacturer initially had an exclusive deal with McLaren, but the relationship got off to a bad start, and never really recovered. McLaren initiated a split after three difficult seasons.

For 2018 Honda switched to the then Toro Rosso team. Owner Red Bull's clear plan was to assess the Japanese power unit with its junior outfit, and if it was deemed to be a better option than a customer Renault, switch Red Bull across as well in 2019.

In June 2018 Honda and Red Bull announced that they would indeed team up, initially only for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

In November 2019 it was confirmed that Honda would remain with both Red Bull and the renamed AlphaTauri outfit for 2021 as well.

Why is Honda leaving F1?

Honda's current contract with Red Bull commits it to the end of the 2021 season. The top management in Japan thus had to make a decision on whether or not to extend its involvement, while also giving its two teams enough time to look for an alternative partner from 2022 onwards.

In essence Honda has justified its decision to stop its F1 programme not on economic grounds but in order to focus its resources on developing alternative energy forms, and specifically a move to carbon neutrality by 2050.

Honda's F1 involvement has always been part of its overall R&D strategy, and after its withdrawal resources currently committed to racing will be deployed elsewhere. In addition engineers who worked on the F1 project can make use of the experience they gained at the cutting edge of motor sport.

What will Red Bull do when Honda leaves?

Red Bull has made it clear that it does not yet have a power unit deal for either of its teams for 2022 and beyond, which is not a surprise given that the Honda decision has only just been made – with the news coming just a few weeks after all current teams signed the new Concorde Agreement.

The obvious options for Red Bull and AlphaTauri are the three current power unit manufacturers. However from next year Mercedes will be supplying four teams, and thus at capacity. Ferrari will continue to supply three teams, and Renault just one.

The FIA regulations have a provision designed to help teams that are left without an engine partner by obliging the manufacturer with the smallest number of partners to step in, which puts the spotlight on Renault.

Red Bull used Renault power for 12 seasons from 2007 and 2018, winning four double world championships in 2010-'13. However the relationship deteriorated in the hybrid era, and by the end they were reluctant partners, with the Red Bull engines rebadged under the TAG Heuer name.

A reunion would be awkward for both sides, especially if forced upon them by the rules.

Red Bull's only other options are to attract a new works supplier, or finance its own project, an idea that it has rejected in the past.

The Austrian company has long enjoyed a relationship with the VW Group. The German giant, which includes the Audi, Porsche and Lamborghini brands, has kept a close watch on F1 for many years. However, its top management has never committed to an involvement.

With less than 18 months to go before the first race of 2022 it would be almost impossible to get any new project to a fully competitive level.

What is Honda's history in Formula 1?

Honda has enjoyed four distinct eras of F1 involvement, and the current one has proved to be the second most successful.

The first chapter was a works team from Japan that competed from 1964 to 1968, scoring two wins.

After a 15-year absence Honda returned in the turbo era in 1983, initially with the small Spirit team, before stepping up with Williams and then Lotus. Nelson Piquet won the World Championship for Williams in 1987.

A famous partnership with McLaren began in 1988. Four more titles followed for Ayrton Senna (1988, 90 and '91), and Alain Prost (1989) before Honda pulled out for a second time at the end of 1992.

Honda returned to F1 in an official capacity with the British American Racing team in 2000, while also enjoying a brief alliance with Jordan.

BAR was rebranded as a full works team in 2006. That year Jenson Button won the Hungarian GP – the only success of Honda's third era. At the end of a difficult 2008 season the company pulled out, citing economic reasons. The team survived as Brawn GP and won the World Championship with a Mercedes engine, and was subsequently bought by the German marque.

Honda was attracted back to F1 by the new V6 hybrid rules. However the return with McLaren in 2015 proved to be fraught, and three difficult seasons of poor reliability and a mediocre performance saw the combination fail to score better than a fifth place.

In 2018 Toro Rosso earned a fourth position in only the team's second race with its new partner as Honda took stock and began to make real progress, prior to hooking up with Red Bull Racing for 2019.

Max Verstappen secured Honda's first podium of the V6 era for RBR when he finished third in the season opener in Australia in 2019. He then logged the first win in Austria, adding two further successes in Germany and Brazil.

In 2020 Verstappen won the 70th Anniversary race at Silverstone, and having logged a series of podiums RBR currently lies second in the constructors' World Championship.

In addition last month Pierre Gasly scored a surprise success with the rebranded AlphaTauri team in the Italian GP. It was Honda's 77th Grand Prix victory.

Honda has stressed that until its departure it remains fully committed to F1 and achieving further successes in the 2021 season.

Read Also:

shares
comments

Related video

Rise in F1 COVID cases not linked to fans attending Russian GP

Previous article

Rise in F1 COVID cases not linked to fans attending Russian GP

Next article

Renault willing to supply F1 engines to Red Bull in 2022

Renault willing to supply F1 engines to Red Bull in 2022
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Adam Cooper
The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture Prime

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture

Aston Martin’s only previous foray into Formula 1 in the late 1950s was a short-lived and unsuccessful affair. But it could have been so different, says Nigel Roebuck.

Formula 1
Apr 10, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace Prime

Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace

Max Verstappen’s star quality in Formula 1 is clear. Now equipped with a Red Bull car that is, right now, the world title favourite and the experience to support his talent, could 2021 be the Dutchman’s year to topple the dominant force of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes?

Formula 1
Apr 9, 2021
Is Formula 1 as good as it has ever been now? Prime

Is Formula 1 as good as it has ever been now?

For many, many years Formula 1 has strived to do and to be better on all fronts. With close competition, a growing fanbase, a stable political landscape and rules in place to encourage sustainability, 2021 is on course to provide an unexpected peak

Formula 1
Apr 8, 2021
How Williams’ new structure adheres to a growing F1 trend Prime

How Williams’ new structure adheres to a growing F1 trend

Williams held out against the tide for many years but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, the age of the owner-manager is long gone

Formula 1
Apr 6, 2021
When a journeyman driver's F1 career lasted just 800m Prime

When a journeyman driver's F1 career lasted just 800m

Nikita Mazepin’s Formula 1 debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix lasted mere corners before he wiped himself out in a shunt, but his financial backing affords him a full season. Back in 1993 though, Marco Apicella was an F1 driver for just 800m before a first corner fracas ended his career. Here’s the story of his very short time at motorsport’s pinnacle.

Formula 1
Apr 4, 2021
How Raikkonen's rapid rise stalled his teammate's F1 career climb Prime

How Raikkonen's rapid rise stalled his teammate's F1 career climb

Kimi Raikkonen's emergence as a Formula 1 star in his rookie campaign remains one of the legendary storylines from 2001, but his exploits had an unwanted impact on his Sauber teammate's own prospects. Twenty years on from his first F1 podium at the Brazilian GP, here's how Nick Heidfeld's career was chilled by the Iceman.

Formula 1
Apr 3, 2021
The nightmare timing that now hinders Mercedes Prime

The nightmare timing that now hinders Mercedes

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton took victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix despite, for a change, not having the quickest car. But any hopes of developing its W12 to surpass Red Bull's RB16B in terms of outright speed could not have come at a worse time.

Formula 1
Apr 2, 2021
How Verstappen's Bahrain mistake can only make him stronger Prime

How Verstappen's Bahrain mistake can only make him stronger

Max Verstappen lost out to Lewis Hamilton at the Bahrain Grand Prix by a tiny margin, slipping off the track just as victory was within his grasp. But the painful lesson from defeat can only help Verstappen come back even stronger

Formula 1
Mar 31, 2021