Manufacturer Honda has announced that they are to withdraw from F1 at the end of the 2021 season. The Japanese firm supplies engines to Red Bull and their sister team AlphaTauri so both will need to find new providers for the 2022 season and beyond.
In a statement, Honda claimed that they are leaving the sport in order to ‘strive for the realisation of carbon neutrality by 2050’ through research and development of new power units and energy technologies.
Red Bull made the switch from Renault power to Honda last year but have said they ‘understand and respect’ the reasons the Japanese manufacturer have given for leaving. Team principal Christian Horner also confirmed that the decision from Honda does not impact the team’s own commitment to Formula 1 after signing a new deal last month.
“As a team we understand how difficult it has been for Honda Motor Company to reach the decision to step back from Formula One at the end of the 2021 season,” said Horner.
“The shifting focus within the automotive industry has led to Honda’s decision to re-deploy their resources and we understand and respect the reasoning behind this. Their decision presents obvious challenges for us as a team but we have been here before and with our strength in depth we are well prepared and equipped to respond effectively, as we have proven in the past.
“Whilst we are disappointed not to continue our partnership with Honda, we are enormously proud of our joint success, delivering five wins and 15 podiums for both Red Bull owned teams and we thank everyone at Honda for their extraordinary efforts and commitment,” Horner continued.
“Our joint focus for the remainder of the 2020 and 2021 seasons are unchanged, to fight for victories and challenge for the championship.
“As a signatory to Formula One’s latest Concorde Agreement, Red Bull Racing remains committed to the sport in the long term and we look forward to embarking on a new era of innovation, development and success. As a group, we will now take the time afforded to us to further evaluate and find the most competitive power unit solution for 2022 and beyond.”
There are three alternative power supplies that Horner and Red Bull will have to choose from to replace Honda. Mercedes is the team’s biggest rivals and already supplies four teams with engines, while Ferrari supplies Haas, Alfa Romeo and their own team.
This leaves Renault as the only engine manufacturer with no external customers in F1. They previously supplied Red Bull for 12 Formula 1 seasons, a stint which included all four of their double title-winning campaigns with Sebastien Vettel driving in the early 2010s.
Despite this, it is no secret that the relationship between Red Bull and Renault deteriorated rapidly towards the end of their time working together which ultimately resulted in Horner and Red Bull seeking out Honda to try and source an engine to compete with the dominant Mercedes.
“Honda has decided to conclude its participation in the FIA Formula One World Championship as a power unit supplier at the end of the 2021 season,” Takahiro Hachigo, president of Honda said in a statement.
“In 2015, Honda resumed competition in F1, the most prestigious automobile racing series in the world, with the goal to win using our own energy management technologies. And this year has been our 6th season. Initially, Honda experienced a number of difficulties in the areas of performance and reliability and continued an uphill battle.
“However, by demonstrating the collective strength of “All Honda” – including the utilization of our aircraft engine technologies to improve performance, and utilization of our mass-production technologies to improve the combustion efficiency of our engines – we were able to significantly increase our competitiveness.
“As for partners, which is the key factor in competing in F1, we have been privileged to work with amazing teams, namely Scuderia AlphaTauri since 2018 and Red Bull Racing since the 2019 season. Members of AlphaTauri, which was Scuderia Toro Rosso at that time, believed in Honda’s potential and signed a contract with us,” the Honda CEO and president continued
“Since then, they have been fully supporting Honda and we kept advancing ourselves together. AlphaTauri Honda claimed our first victory at the Italian Grand Prix last month, and it was the 50th race we competed together since we began our challenge. It was the result of our unrelenting effort to date, and we had no words to describe the joy we experienced at Honda.
“On behalf of Honda, I would like to express our gratitude again to both Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri for enabling us to fulfil our ambitions of winning F1 races. 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.”