Red Bull Racing has announced ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix that it will race with special liveries on what should have been Honda’s home race weekend. The company’s junior team Scuderia AlphaTauri will also paint its cars with a special livery.
The team began using Honda engines in 2019, and have together scored 35 podium finishes and 11 pole positions to date. The Japanese engine-maker will, however, turn its back to Formula One at the end of the current season with Red Bull set to take over the maintenance of the Honda power units through Red Bull Powertrains Limited and continue racing them after a freeze on development.
The twin Red Bull Racing RB16B cars of Max Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Pérez will feature a predominantly white livery inspired by the legendary Honda RA 272 car, in which US racer Richie Ginther secured the company’s maiden Formula One win at the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix.
Meanwhile, at AlphaTauri, the rear wings of the AT02 cars driven by Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda will feature the one-word message ありがとう(arigato), meaning ‘thank you’.
Koji Watanabe, Chief Officer for Brand and Communication Operations at Honda added: “Everyone at Honda is extremely disappointed that the Japanese Grand Prix has had to be cancelled, while fully understanding and agreeing with the reasons behind this decision.
"We were especially keen to race at Suzuka Circuit, as it is our last year in the sport, at a time when both our teams are performing very well. We also appreciate that the Japanese fans were particularly looking forward to seeing Honda’s last appearance here and Yuki Tsunoda driving in his home race.
"We know that a special livery cannot replace what would have been a very exciting weekend, but we hope that Honda fans around the world, especially those in Japan, will accept this special livery as a small token of our appreciation of their continued support over so many years.”
Team boss Christian Horner said: “We had all been looking forward to giving Honda’s Japanese fans a chance to celebrate our extremely successful relationship in Formula 1, on home soil at Suzuka.
"With the race falling victim to the pandemic, we just couldn’t let the weekend pass without paying tribute to Honda and its amazing home fans by bringing a little bit of its heritage to Istanbul. The livery chosen for our cars pays homage to Honda’s remarkable F1 journey and hopefully we can give fans another victory in those legendary colours this weekend," Horner concluded.