Jenson Button thinks “it’s time” for Honda to leave Formula 1, given how much money they have poured into powering Red Bull to World Championship glory.
The Japanese engine manufacturer are no longer officially in Formula 1, but they will still have a close connection with the Red Bull Powertrains division over the coming years as their Intellectual Property is still being used by the Milton Keynes-based team.
And Button, who has his own close connection to Honda given he raced over 140 times in Formula 1 with their engines, can fully understand why they have decided to take a step back and focus their main resources on other areas.
“They are so passionate about their racing, and it’s a shame to see them leaving again,” Button told Motorsport.com.
“But I kind of have an idea of how much they are spending, and it’s a lot of money, so I kind of get why they want to leave. It’s time.
“But they’ve had a fantastic year in the sport and it’s lovely for them, because it’s not been the easiest ride for them on this journey.”
Button also felt it was unfortunate that his former team McLaren did not continue their partnership with Honda, even if their second spell together – of which Button was a part of in 2015-2016 and ever so briefly in 2017 when deputising for Fernando Alonso at the Monaco Grand Prix – did have a scarcity of positive moments.
“I was with them at the start of this [V6 hybrid] project and it wasn’t easy for them,” Button added to Motorsport.com.
“In the hybrid era, they struggled when they first came in. They were obviously a couple of years behind everyone else. [There were] lots of reliability issues.
“And I think it’s a shame that McLaren didn’t hang on with them. It was very easy for them to point the finger when they weren’t competitive and they pointed to the most unreliable part, which was the engine.
“But now moving forward, working with a team like Red Bull and all their experience, it seems that they’ve found a really good partnership.
“It’s nice to see Honda winning again, because their last win before the era with Red Bull was mine in 2006, a long time ago in sport. So it’s great to see them winning.”
Button, now an advisor to Williams in conjunction with his media commitments with Sky Sports F1, is looking to spend a lot more time with his old team having seen his role limited due to Covid-19 restrictions last season.
Planet F1 Verdict
Button gives key to Honda departure
Button spoke of Honda's most recent tenure in Formula 1.