Red Bull and AlphaTauri will need to find a new power unit supplier after Honda announced a surprise decision to quit Formula 1 at the end of 2021.
The Japanese manufacturer only returned to the sport in 2015, initially with McLaren but then switching to supply AlphaTauri — then called Toro Rosso — in 2018 when the McLaren partnership failed. An encouraging season then saw Red Bull added as works partner in 2019 and Honda picked up its first win in Austria last year, adding further victories in Germany and Brazil as it committed to remain in the sport until at least the end of the 2021 season.
Despite a fourth win with Red Bull at Silverstone this season and a first AlphaTauri victory at Monza, Honda has now announced it will conclude its participation in F1 at the end of next year to focus on trying to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
“We see the automobile industry is undergoing a once-in-one-hundred-years period of great transformation,” Takahiro Hachigo, president and CEO of Honda said. “It has been a while since we started communicating Honda’s intention to focus on the creation of new mobility products and new value for the future.
“Especially, we view our environmental initiatives as one of the top priorities of Honda as a mobility manufacturer. In 2010, Honda set a vision to realize ‘the joy and freedom of mobility’ and ‘a sustainable society where people can enjoy life,’ and since then, we have been making progress in our initiatives to strive for the elimination of our environmental footprint.
“At this time, Honda made a decision to further accelerate such initiatives and strive for ‘the realization of carbon neutrality by 2050’ in order to realize a sustainable society. To this end, our current goal of ‘electrifying two-thirds of our global automobile unit sales in 2030’ will become a checkpoint we must pass before we get to the 2050 goal, and therefore we must further accelerate the introduction of our carbon-free technologies.”
That decision means Honda will reallocate its F1 resources into other areas of the business, with the manufacturer insisting it was less a decision made due to the impact of COVID-19 and more focused on the distribution of its engineering resources.
The announcement leaves Red Bull and AlphaTauri requiring a new power unit supplier from 2022 onwards, with current regulations stating Renault would have to supply its former team as the power unit manufacturer with the fewest customers. At present, Mercedes will supply four teams from next year — Mercedes, McLaren, Aston Martin and Williams — while Ferrari will provide engines to Ferrari, Haas and Alfa Romeo.
Honda stresses it will continue with its other motorsport activities, which include its IndyCar project.