Honda has dropped a bomb in Formula One by revealing they are set to leave the sport at the end of 2021. The company's exit will mark the end of 7 years of racing, with mixed success, during the hybrid F1 era.
The exit resembles the company's exit in 2008, when the company also suddenly decided to stop their involvement. At the time, they left their own team behind at a moment where it looked like they were rebuilding with Ross Brawn at the helm.
This time around, Honda will leave Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri behind without an engine. Both of them thanked Honda for their efforts over the last years, but certainly for them, it will be a tough nut to crack at a moment where it looked like they had their engine situation sorted after some difficult years with Renault. It even doesn't seem unlikely that Red Bull will have to return to knock on the Renault door at Viry to get an engine deal in place.
Red Bull Racing's partnership with Honda did provide success with Max Verstappen scoring Honda’s first victory since 2006 at the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix, followed by three further victories and 13 podium finishes in just 31 race starts.
Additionally, Scuderia AlphaTauri’s victory at this year’s Italian Grand Prix saw Honda become the only power unit manufacturer to win with two different teams since the start of Formula One’s hybrid era in 2014.
This decision is said to not affect Honda’s commitment this or the next year.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Team Principal Christian Horner, said: “As a Team we understand how difficult it has been for Honda Motor Company to reach the decision to step back from Formula One at the end of the 2021 season. The shifting focus within the automotive industry has led to Honda’s decision to re-deploy their resources and we understand and respect the reasoning behind this. Their decision presents obvious challenges for us as a Team but we have been here before and with our strength in depth we are well prepared and equipped to respond effectively, as we have proven in the past.
“Whilst we are disappointed not to continue our partnership with Honda, we are enormously proud of our joint success, delivering five wins and 15 podiums for both Red Bull owned teams and we thank everyone at Honda for their extraordinary efforts and commitment.
“Our joint focus for the remainder of the 2020 and 2021 seasons are unchanged, to fight for victories and challenge for the championship. As a signatory to Formula One’s latest Concorde Agreement, Red Bull Racing remains committed to the sport in the long term and we look forward to embarking on a new era of innovation, development and success. As a group, we will now take the time afforded to us to further evaluate and find the most competitive power unit solution for 2022 and beyond.”