Honda shocked the F1 world with some unexpected and surprising news on Friday the 2nd of October. They announced that they would leave F1 at the end of 2021. This is after their deals with AlphaTauri and Red Bull end. This news roundup is the 3rd Formula 1 news roundup on F1ntastic.com. There’s a lot of news and a lot of details to talk about Honda leaving F1. This will have a major effect on Red Bull and AlphaTauri. However, this is more so on Red Bull, since Red Bull wants to bring the fight and battle Mercedes for being the top team in F1.
Honda’s exit in F1 is an incredibly interesting and significant topic to me, and that’s why we’re here with a news roundup about it. Be sure to let me know in the comments below, are you excited about this news? Are you angry about this news? Do you want to see how Honda leaving changes F1, just like I do? There’s a lot to talk about in today’s roundup, so let’s get into it.
Why Is Honda Leaving F1?
When I found news came of Honda leaving F1, my first question was, why? What caused this shock exit? The cause of this announcement is all about finance. Honda as an automobile company has been under a lot of financial pressure due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. This pressure has worsened over the course of this pandemic. The costs and budget required to manufacture and provide Formula 1 engines are immense, so the Japanese car manufacturer was facing serious issues. The Honda board had to authorize massive funds towards the motorsport side.
But with the effects of the pandemic increasing the strain on the company, the board was becoming more and more reluctant to invest in motorsport. Honda’s head of motorsport Masashi Yamamoto has been tirelessly convincing the board to stay in F1, but now they’ve had enough. Honda is bound by contract to supply F1 engines to Red Bull and AlphaTauri till the end of 2021, but after that, the two sister teams will have to look for new engines.
The budget Honda has for manufacturing engines for 2021 will be strained, so that could affect their engine’s performance. In F1, with more money comes more performance. This isn’t a hard fact; Ferrari have a huge budget, yet they’re not performing as they expected. In 2018, Haas was extremely close to being the best of the midfield while having one of the lowest budgets. But here, Honda is now under more financial stress. So the budget for F1 will be lower, and the performance can be a little bit worse. Also, the fact that Hond won’t make F1 engines in 2022 also affects their 2021 performance.
However, Takahiro Hachigo talked about how Honda want to win the constructors’ title with Red Bull in 2021. Takahiro Hachigo is the President, CEO and Representative Director for Honda. No matter how many odds are against them, I’m sure Honda will continue fighting and they will chase after even more success in their final year in Formula 1 in 2021, and this year, of course.
What Does This Mean For Red Bull?
The juice of this situation, the most interesting part of Honda’s exit is Red Bull. AlphaTauri needs new engines as well, but this announcement will not affect at all when compared to Red Bull. Since Honda is no longer supplying engines Red Bull have 3 options left. Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes. By the regulations, Renault is obliged to supply to Red Bull since they supply the least engines at the moment.
Since McLaren is also giving them the boot and buying engines from Mercedes next year, this rule is even more valid. Red Bull would want to convince Mercedes, Ferrari, or any external engine supplier to supply them. This wouldn’t force them to have to use a Renault engine. As of 2020, I don’t think a team like Red Bull will want to have a Ferrari engines powering them. Red Bull is riding high and fighting Mercedes, so they want a really fast and reliable engine.
Mercedes fully confirmed as soon as possible that they won’t supply engines to Red Bull. Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff confirmed in a press conference that the Silver Arrows won’t supply to Red Bull. In terms of bringing in a new manufacturer, chances are extremely slim. 1 and a half years is not a lot of time for Red Bull to bring in an external manufacturer. Red Bull Team Principal said that the team “have the time; Honda have afforded us that time. If they had made this decision in the spring of next year or the autumn of next year it would have been a far worse scenario for us.”
However, the most interesting possibility of all to me is Red Bull making their own engines. Red Bull is an energy drink manufacturer. They aren’t an automobile company like Renault or Honda. However, they could take over Honda’s existing F1-manufacturing infrastructure. Red Bull could acquire their intellectual property and start manufacturing engines themselves. Red Bull would be engine manufacturers, and they could even sell Red Bull engines to other teams. A major disadvantage in this is that it would be EXTREMELY costly, but Christian Horner hasn’t ruled this possibility out yet.
It is most likely that Red Bull will have to make a deal and continue their love-hate relationship with Renault. It’s a tough decision for Christian Horner. Red Bull have signed the Concorde Agreement and will remain in F1 until the end of 2025 at the least, so this engine decision could be both long-term and short-term. If Red Bull isn’t bringing in a new manufacturer or manufacturing themselves, then they will have to buy from Renault. While this arrangement looks like it’s going to last for long, Red Bull might have another ace up their sleeve. 2026. This is the year when there will be a brand new engine formula. Red Bull may have an external engine manufacturer on board, but it could be for 2026 rather than 2022.
That’s a decision for the future, but for now, it looks like Red Bull and AlphaTauri will be buying engines from Renault. Christian Horner spoke about how the teams will maker a decision before the end of 2020. This we’ll know the answer to our main query fairly soon.
“Renault have to be considered as a potential supplier in the future. Renault are a different organisation than the last time they supplied us, they have a new chairman, (Luca de Meo) who seems passionate about Formula 1, that is good to see. And Formula 1 needs that drive from the top of an organisation, that enthusiasm, otherwise it’s impossible to achieve success in this sport.” – Christian Horner
The Driver’s Take On This Announcement
The driver’s reaction and thoughts about this change is pretty important. Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen, Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat all spoke about this announcement. First, let’s look at what Pierre Gasly said about Honda leaving F1.
“I have to admit I’m sad that Honda is leaving Formula 1 after the experiences we shared together over the past four years. The people at Honda have played an important role in my career and I have always loved working with them. But we will still be together until the end of next year and I hope we can try and fight for more wins together before then, and that Honda will be in a position to fight for the (constructors’) championship title.”
“I would have loved to have seen them carry on in Formula 1. And I could see a bright future for them. They started to fight for race wins on a more consistent basis, top-three finishes, podiums and I think looking at three years ago, where they were, looking at where they are now, I think in three years’ time, I could see them fighting for the championship and being a real contender.”
Pierre Gasly’s teammate Daniil Kvyat also spoke about this news. The Russian stormed home to a spectacular podium at the 2019 German Grand Prix when AlphaTauri was under the Toro Rosso name. The news surprised Kvyat as well, seeing that AlphaTauri has been very successful with Honda. A race win and 2 podiums in 3 years is a great run. And Kvyat expected that Honda and the Red Bull-owned teams would continue with the success they are having.
“I was surprised to hear the news that Honda will leave F1 at the end of next year. It is sad on a human level as I enjoy working with their engineers, and disappointing from a racing point of view because they have worked so hard to give us the best possible power unit and we have seen it deliver some excellent results so far. The Honda guys at the track are really committed and I’m sure they will continue to push while they are still in the sport.”
Daniel Ricciardo has a very unique view on this. He has spent more than a year with both Renault and Red Bull, and he spoke about the two teams working together once again. Ricciardo has seen both sides of the relationship, so his opinion on Red Bull buying from Renault again is quite important and gives everyone a look into this situation from his unique perspective. Ricciardo recently scored a podium with Renault, yet he’s won every single race of his career with Red Bull. Will he take a side? Will it be Renault or Red Bull? Actually, the Australian took both!
“I think they could (continue the partnership). Obviously it’s not really up to me to decide how that goes, but I do think they could. I think as well there’s… call it emotions and then there’s business and there’s time. Obviously time heals a lot of things and whether things weren’t seen eye-to-eye a few years ago or whenever it was, I don’t think that will necessarily remain forever. So if that’s what ends up happening in the future I think they can get back on good working terms. I never experience anything that was irreparable so I’m not concerned if that’s what they do. I think they’ll get on with it.”
“To be honest however the relationship ended last time with Red Bull and Renault, the fact was Red Bull was still winning races with Renault in the back of the car. Obviously the championships were with Renault, so I think at the end of the day if they’re building a good car they’re going to get support and they’ll still have a chance to do that. Unless I’m missing something really obvious with the rules – I know you mentioned 2022 but I haven’t really thought that far ahead yet – but going on the history and the past and my experience there I don’t foresee anything that they should be concerned about.”
The main reason Ricciardo left Red Bull at the end of 2018 is that Honda was largely unproven. Ricciardo didn’t feel comfortable with driving a car with a Honda engine. Ricciardo insisted that he didn’t have any personal feelings towards Honda leaving. He didn’t think that he proved anything negative about Honda when Honda announced their departure.
“I honestly don’t feel anything personal towards it. I’m not jumping around saying ‘Oh yeah, look, I was right!’ It’s nothing like that. Obviously as far as Red Bull and my relationship with them and a lot of personnel in the team I kept that strong throughout. Even through my decision I kept good relationships so I never wanted them to struggle or suffer so to speak. Now they’ve got a decision to make with what happens next, but I don’t really look at it in a personal light of me winning or losing, it’s just the nature of the sport. There’s always a chance, the sport’s changing so much that there is a chance that stuff like this happens. I do hope they obviously find a solution, a good one, and they stay afloat and keep being a rival for the rest of us.”
There were many rumors and thoughts circulating around the F1 world related to Max Verstappen. Many thought that Honda leaving would result in Max Verstappen leaving Red Bull. Verstappen’s relationship and views towards Honda is very, very positive, and the Dutchman has supported them a lot. Verstappen’s view on Renault is the complete opposite. He was openly criticizing the French manufacturer during Red Bull’s partnership with them. Verstappen has signed a contract with Red Bull that keeps him in the team until the end of 2023. However, contracts can have clauses that allow changes to be made after major events like this. Red Bull will obviously want to retain Verstappen, so they might have to come up with a plan for that. However, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner dismissed any thoughts of Verstappen’s contract being affected.
“People keep asking whether Honda’s departure would mean a change in our driver line-up or result in Max leaving the team,” said Horner. “I can tell you that, despite contracts being private, there are no clauses related to Honda in Max or Alex (Albon’s) contracts, so it does not change anything. I had a good conversation with Max before the announcement and he is just as motivated, upbeat and trusts the team. The time we now have will enable us to evaluate all options and possibilities.
“We have won races in the hybrid era with two different power units (Renault and Honda), so our focus is very much on the chassis and in terms of what that delivers, and whatever power unit we use – we will deliver with. There are now some big decisions to be made within the Team and also in the sport as future power unit solutions and technologies are evaluated against the spectacle and DNA of Formula 1.”
Verstappen didn’t make any comments himself on these rumors. He spoke about how he wants to focus more on the time left with Honda, rather than what lies ahead. For the moment, the Dutchman wants to focus on performing the best he can for the rest of 2020 and for 2021, and then focus on 2022.
“I’ll just focus on this season and next season, I think that’s the most important,” he said. “What happens after that is anyway so far that it doesn’t make sense to think about that yet. We’re still driving with them for another one and a half years, and also after that, we’ve got the new regulations of the cars coming in, so there are so many unknowns that at the moment, it doesn’t make sense to think about that anyway. I’ll just focus on what I have to do and that’s try and drive the car as fast as I can with an engine in the back – I hope! I hope I’m not going to end up like Fred Flintstone,” he joked.
Verstappen didn’t give any details of what decisions Red Bull were going to take; he thought it was too early to talk about that as well.
“I don’t know at the moment how it’s going to look like,” said Verstappen. He could “feel it (the announcement) coming”. “But I don’t necessarily see it as a negative. But let’s find out. We learnt a lot from the different engine manufacturers we’ve had so far and at the moment, I think it’s all a bit unknown of what we’re going to do. Are we going to take another engine? I don’t know.”
This is the end of this Formula 1 news roundup; there was a lot of news about Honda leaving F1, since this could potentially have a big effect on the sport in the new era in 2022. Red Bull are a top team and if the Renault engine doesn’t perform, 2022 could be an even more different year. For now, this is all of the news related to this topic, but I’m sure this topic will be back in the headlines soon. As I mentioned earlier, Red Bull are making a decision soon, so stay on the lookout for new posts!