Pierre Gasly feels Honda’s name returning to the Red Bull and AlphaTauri cars reflects that very little has changed since the engine supplier’s official withdrawal from F1.
Giving over a year’s notice, Honda announced they would exit Formula 1 at the end of the 2021 season – and did so on a high as they played a full part in the celebrations for Max Verstappen’s World Championship triumph.
But it was anything but a ‘hard’ departure in the sense that ties were not completely severed, even though Red Bull Powertrains was established to take over the engine programme for the two teams owned by the Austrian energy drink giant.
Indeed, far from it, because as Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko pointed out, the power units were still being manufactured by Honda and after an initial one-year period had been agreed in which in the Japanese company’s expertise remained on call, this was later extended to the end of 2025.
Now, in the build-up to the Japanese Grand Prix in their homeland, it has been confirmed Honda’s logo will be back on the Red Bull and AlphaTauri cars in addition to that of HRC, their racing department.
To AlphaTauri driver Gasly’s mind, that makes perfect sense – because it feels to him like Honda have never really left.
“That’s the thing. That’s personally the way I feel,” the Frenchman, who is being strongly linked with a switch to the Alpine/Renault works team for next year, told reporters.
“I’ve still been working with the same engineers, I’ve still been in contact with my Honda guys. I know the job has been kind of split between Red Bull and Honda, but when we talk about the engine we always refer to it as the Honda power unit.
“So even for us, we kind of feel like things have never really changed except a bit of paperwork.”
It remains to be seen what approach Honda will take when the new power-unit regulations are brought in for 2026.
“I’m just glad they are coming back and fully committing again to be 100% present and to show that, because I think it’s in their spirit,” said Gasly of the reintroduced Honda branding.
“I’ve been working with them for many years. I know how efficient they are and when they really want something, they make it happen. I think it’s really great to see them committing to Formula 1 in the way they are doing.”
Verstappen had similar thoughts, saying: “It’s great to have the full [Honda] name back on the car. HRC was already on the car, so… Honda never really left.
“And of course, that makes it extra special that they are back on the car just before their home grand prix. We’ve been working really well together, it’s been really enjoyable.
“In terms of the working relationship compared to last year, not a lot has changed anyway. Just very happy that the name is back.”