Honda made it clear to Red Bull as early as August that they were considering their involvement in Formula 1 beyond 2021.
Honda dropped a bombshell on Friday by announcing that they would walk away from the series at the end of the 2021 season, leaving Red Bull and AlphaTauri needing a new engine supplier for 2022 when Formula 1 will introduce new sporting, technical and financial regulations.
Having achieved their aims of producing a race-winning Formula 1 engine, Honda have decided ‘to strive for the realisation of carbon neutrality by 2050’.
But while the news was a shock to the world of motorsport, Honda had in fact told Red Bull that they were considering leaving F1 after 2021 back in August.
“Since we extended by one year [with Red Bull] we have been thinking a lot of things over,” said Honda President Takahiro Hachigo, as quoted by Motorsportweek.com.
“In August we communicated our thoughts to Red Bull Racing and we determined to conclude participation at the end of September actually.”
Hachigo stressed that the financial impacts of the global pandemic played no role in Honda’s decision.
“It is not really for the consideration of short-term revenues and profits, but we want to go for the carbon neutrality for 2050, we want to have that target set up,” he said.
“We want to focus engineering resources into that area, it is not really a profits consideration or Covid, it is an engineering resources, that it what it is mainly based on.
“The [Honda] engineers working in F1 right now I want to make sure that all the technology they have fostered and cultivated themselves during F1 can be directed towards [achieving] carbon neutrality by 2050.
“This will be a difficult challenge, just as difficult as F1, so for these engineers it should be a good task as well. This is the task we want to encourage them.”
Honda to Conclude Participation in FIA Formula One World Championship.
— Honda Racing F1 (@HondaRacingF1) October 2, 2020
The Red Bull/AlphaTauri partnership with Honda has so far resulted in five Grand Prix wins, but going forward the options for both teams are now rather thin.
Either they could look to attract a new engine manufacturer into the sport for 2022, or Renault under the regulations would return to supplying Red Bull since they currently have no team to supply from next year.
The relationship between Red Bull and Renault of course ended on a rather sour note in 2018.