Honda have pulled the plug on their Formula 1 operations from 2021, but explained why they won’t do the same with IndyCar.
It isn’t the first time that Honda have made a shock exit from Formula 1, but their announcement that they would leave the sport after the 2021 season, having only begun their relationship with the Red Bull team in 2019, really did come out of the blue.
The company will now turn their attention towards achieving carbon neutrality, but they are still going to continue their involvement with IndyCar.
Asked by Racefans.net why that was the case, Honda F1 managing director Masashi Yamamoto said: “Our work on IndyCar is run by HPD, which is an independent part of Honda within America.
“We also considered pursuing both Formula 1 and the work that we’re doing before the rapidly approaching requirement for carbon neutrality,” he added.
“In the end, the decision was taken to shift the top engineers for the work on future power units, et cetera. And unfortunately, we were unable to continue with Formula 1 as a result of that.”
Honda’s Japan-based engineers are now being redeployed from the Formula 1 project to the bid to become carbon neutral by 2050.
But their staff in the United States haven’t been affected.
“In this case, a lot of our R&D staff are based in Japan, which meant that for our future work, we had to allocate engineers who otherwise had been working in Japan,” Yamamoto added.
Formula 1 meanwhile aims to become carbon neutral by 2030, and though this is the aim for both F1 and Honda, Yamamoto said the paths to that goal are different.
“Given that Honda has customers all over the world for its automobile products, its motorbikes and general use products, there was the need for us to move our top engineers at an earlier stage to working on future carbon neutral projects,” he explained.
— Honda Racing F1 (@HondaRacingF1) October 11, 2020
Red Bull’s future engine plans remain unclear now that Honda are set to leave Formula 1, though Helmut Marko, head of the Red Bull driver programme, said they would like to take over the Japanese manufacturer’s intellectual property.
“We would prefer, under the condition the talks are positive, that we take over Honda’s IP and then prepare the engines in Milton Keynes,” Marko told AvD Motorsport.
“But this is only possible if there is an engine freeze starting from the first race in 2022.
“We need a decision about this from the FIA as soon as possible.
“If the decision is positive, then the next step is to find an agreement with Honda.
“We have several buildings in Milton Keynes, Honda too, and we are checking at the moment where we could implement it.
“All current engine manufacturers have their own team and build the engine with their chassis. We would get something where we have to build our chassis around. We would be faced with a technical solution that we have to accept.
“That is why we prefer the Honda solution. But we go through all the possibilities. If something like that comes into play, it has to fit the overall situation, it has to make us competitive, a forced marriage is not a factor for us.”