Formula 1’s managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn is hoping Honda’s spell away from the sport will be a short one, and that the Japanese manufacturer can be enticed back with new regulations.
Honda will leave F1 at the end of 2021, announcing just over a week ago that it plans to reallocate resources to focus on achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Brawn was team principal of the then Honda works team when it withdrew from the sport at the end of 2008 – putting together a rescue package that led to the team becoming BrawnGP and winning both titles the following season – and hopes the next set of power unit regulations prove enticing.
“It is unfortunate Honda are leaving Formula 1 at the end of 2021,” Brawn said. “I’m optimistic when their situation changes and when F1 evolves, we can engage them again, as Honda have always been important and welcome members of the F1 community in the past and hopefully for the future.
“All automotive companies are facing massive challenges at the moment, and we as F1 need to respond to that and make sure F1 meets those challenges, stays relevant and becomes more relevant to provide automotive partners with viable challenges within F1 which can provide support with their objectives away from F1.
“I hope a new power unit formula, which will be introduced no later than 2026 will encourage them to come back again. We’ll also be encouraging them to be part of new FIA working groups, which will recommend what sort of power unit we will adopt in the future. They have been great partners in F1 and I look forward to working with them in future.”
Honda insists its departure at the end of next year is not due to financial pressures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but simply a reflection of where it wants to use its engineering resources within the company. Honda’s CEO Takahiro Hachigo made the final decision personally, revealing some company members voiced the opinion that the Japanese manufacturer should remain in the sport.