BREAKING: Honda Leaving F1…Again!

Just a short while ago, Honda Racing F1 released a statement that they will cease their involvement in Formula 1 after the 2021 season. As if 2020 wasn’t a crazy enough year already Honda decides to drop this bombshell out of no where.

Why is Honda leaving Formula One?

Why is Honda leaving F1? Well, the “official” stance is that they see that the automotive industry is going through a “once-in-one-hundred-years period of great transformation” and this is part of their strategy to adapt.

Furthermore the manufacturer has committed to becoming completely carbon neutral by the year 2050. To this end the big H want’s to “funnel its corporate resources in research and development into the areas of future power unit and energy technologies”.

Basically they’re trying to say that they’d rather spend the money on researching EV and other carbon neutral engines rather than F1. When you look at it that way, the move actually makes sense.

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09: The Red Bull Racing team celebrate on the pitwall as race winner Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing crosses the finish line during the F1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone on August 09, 2020 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

F1 is not a cheap sport to participate in. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year in an effort to become as competitive as possible. Considering Honda’s future goal of carbon neutrality, they have to wonder how many environmentally friendly cars will F1 help them sell in the long run?

While Honda did not mention it, I have to imagine that the global pandemic’s effect on the economy also had to play some factor in this decision. Though, as previously stated, Honda did not mention that in their statement. So for now, that theory is just speculation on my part.

Not the first time Honda has bowed out of F1

This departure will mark the second time that Honda has pulled out of Formula 1 within the last two decades. They left F1 at the end of the 2008 season but the team’s assets were bought and eventually turned into Brawn GP, the team in which Jenson Button won his first and only world championship.

Brawn GP later turned into Mercedes GP and well, the rest is history after that.

Honda returned to F1 in 2015 with McLaren to absolutely disastrous results. Their engines suffered multiple failures and was seen as an embarrassment. Fernando Alonso, a McLaren driver at the time, suffered six engine failures in the first seven races.

Honda’s new era with Red Bull Racing

SCARPERIA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 12: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 on track during qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix of Tuscany at Mugello Circuit on September 12, 2020 in Scarperia, Italy. (Photo by Jenifer Lorenzini - Pool/Getty Images)

Ultimately McLaren and Honda parted ways and then Honda formed a new relationship with Red Bull in 2018 to provide engines for their Red Bull Racing team and their secondary Scuderia AlphaTauri team.

MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06: Pierre Gasly of Scuderia AlphaTauri and France during the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 06, 2020 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Due to a completely new management regime change within Honda Racing, they had a complete transformation and had much more success with Red Bull. Combined, both Red Bull teams earned 5 wins and 15 podiums with the Honda powerplant. That includes Pierre Gasly’s first win with Scuderia AlphaTauri.

Though in recent races some weaknesses have begun to show once again with Max Verstappen having two DNF’s in Italy due to engine troubles.

It’s unclear if those recent engine problems played any factor in their decision to leave the sport again. Though, it would be easy to speculate they did.

As to why Honda will run the 2021 season, that is due to their current contract with Red Bull Racing. It is hard to imagine that it won’t play a factor in team morale next year at Red Bull.

What will Max Verstappen do?

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 30: Race winner Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium as second placed Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari looks dejected during the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on June 30, 2019 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Max Verstappen is their number one driver and rumors say he has a pretty solid exit clause. Considering his recent DNFs and the fact that Honda is leaving after 2021 anyway, he might just pack up and move on to a team with a more stable future.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

What do you think about Honda leaving Formula 1? Do you think it is the right move for them? Or do you think they are making a mistake? What power plant do you think Red Bull Racing should go with for 2022?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or tweet them to me at @MotorworldHype.

For more information, see the official press release below.

Honda to Conclude Participation in FIA Formula One World Championship Press Release

TOKYO, Japan, October 2, 2020 – Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today announced that it has decided to conclude its participation in the FIA*1 Formula One (F1) World Championship as a power unit supplier at the end of the 2021 season.

In 2015, Honda resumed competition in F1, the most prestigious automobile racing series in the world, with the goal to win using its own energy management technologies. Initially, Honda experienced a number of difficulties; however, by demonstrating the collective strength of “All Honda,” including the utilization of its aircraft engine technologies, Honda has realized a high level of competitiveness.

Moreover, as a result of the growth Honda achieved together with Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri under a strong partnership with both teams, Honda was able to attain its goal of earning victories with three wins last season and two wins* so far in the 2020 season.

In the meantime, as the automobile industry undergoes a once-in-one-hundred-years period of great transformation, Honda has decided 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.

Toward this end, Honda needs to funnel its corporate resources in research and development into the areas of future power unit and energy technologies, including fuel cell vehicle (FCV) and battery EV (BEV) technologies, which will be the core of carbon-free technologies. As a part of this move, in April of this year, Honda created a new center called Innovative Research Excellence, Power Unit & Energy. Honda will allocate its energy management and fuel technologies as well as knowledge amassed through F1 activities to this area of power unit and energy technologies and take initiatives while focusing on the future realization of carbon neutrality.  Toward this end, Honda made the decision to conclude its participation in F1.

Motorsports activities are in Honda’s DNA, and therefore Honda will continue to be passionate about taking on challenges and striving to become No. 1 in all categories of racing in which Honda participates.

In F1, in order to fulfill the expectations of its fans, 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.

With its “challenging spirit” cultivated through motorsports activities, Honda will take on the new challenge of the future realization of carbon neutrality.

Honda will appreciate the continuous understanding and support for its motorsports activities and for the new challenge of Honda.

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