Honda’s rollercoaster ride in F1’s hybrid era will come to an end next year. The Japanese manufacturer announced the shock move this morning, explaining that its departure from the sport is all about a journey to carbon neutrality by 2050.
In a statement, it said:
“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.”
Honda currently supplies hybrid V6 turbo power units to Red Bull and AlphaTauri, both of which it has won races with. It has vowed to “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.”
Responding to the news, Red Bull said it, “acknowledges the decision by the Honda Motor Company to withdraw from Formula One at the end of the 2021 season and would like to thank the company for its exceptional efforts as power unit supplier to both Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri.”
Honda re-entered the sport in 2015 with McLaren, but initial results were poor, and the relationship between the two soon soured. Who can forget Fernando Alonso barking “GP2 engine! Arrghh!” over the team radio?
Honda and McLaren parted ways at the end of 2017, leading to a new supply deal with Scuderia Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) starting in 2018, which expanded to include Red Bull in 2019. The partnership has yielded many podium finishes and four victories, but Honda hasn’t ever found itself in a championship-contending position, as the company targeted when it rejoined the F1 circus.