Japanese engine manufacturer Honda has announced they are leaving Formula 1 at the end of the 2021 season.
Honda returned to Formula 1 in 2015 with McLaren but a torrid three-year spell with the Woking team saw the two parties go their separate ways. McLaren went with Renault power and Honda joined forces first with Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso in 2018 before also going into partnership with Red Bull themselves the following year.
Honda committed their future to Formula 1 as a engine manufacturer until 2021 in November 2019 but now they have confirmed the plug will be pulled on their Formula 1 operations once the 2021 season concludes.
In a statement released by Honda, they have decided, having achieved their aims of producing a race-winning Formula 1 engine, to turn their attention ‘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 work together with Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri to continue competing with its utmost effort and strive for more victories all the way to the end of the 2021 season.’
🗣 "As a Team we understand how difficult it has been for Honda Motor Company to reach the decision to step back from #F1 at the end of the 2021 season." Christian on today's announcement 👉 https://t.co/xFMSXdHjW8 pic.twitter.com/CjEFpLvQMd
— Aston Martin Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) October 2, 2020
The Red Bull/AlphaTauri partnership with Honda has so far resulted in five Grand Prix wins. The first four coming with Red Bull during the 2019 season in Austria, Germany and Brazil respectively, then the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2020.
Honda’s most recent win came at what is sure to be known as the one of the most iconic Italian Grand Prix races when Pierre Gasly passed the chequered flag first in his AlphaTauri earlier on the 2020 campaign.
The news leaves Red Bull and AlphaTauri without an engine constructor for the 2022 season and beyond but they will not go without.
The two options on the table for Red Bull are to potentially attract a new manufacturer to Formula 1 and, failing that, the regulations state that Renault, the constructor with the lowest numbers of customers, would have to supply Red Bull with power units.
Following the conclusion of the 2020 season, Renault will be without a customer team as McLaren will be powered by Mercedes again in 2021.
Renault and Red Bull have, of course, had a previous working relationship as Renault powered Red Bull’s cars from 2007 to the end of the 2018 season.
The partnership saw Red Bull four consecutive World Championship title doubles from 2010 to 2013 but the relationship notably soured when the wins and titles dried up before Red Bull jumped ship to Honda.