F1: Honda, Red Bull Will Work Together Through 2022
After returning to Formula 1 in 2015, Honda is living its best life yet. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is currently at the top of the driver’s standings, and the team is on second place trailing Mercedes by only 23 points in the constructor’s standings with five races remaining in the season. Yet, after this success, Honda will be leaving Formula 1 at the end of this season.
The announcement shocked the world last year. After a disorderly relationship with McLaren than ended in 2017, Honda started supplying engines for Toro Rosso in 2018, with the partnership expanding one year later to Red Bull. Since then, Red Bull’s success has taken off, finishing second place last year and giving Mercedes a tough time at the circuit.
But why retire when you’re leaving the dream? Honda plans to become a carbon neutral company, and the need to spend resources in developing electric vehicles caused the company to step out of Formula 1. More recently, Honda and Red Bull announced a joint partnership that will last throughout the 2022 season, where Red Bull Powertrains will use the intellectual property of Honda’s power units, and Honda will build the 2022 engines and provide trackside and race operation support throughout the season. “And from 2023, Red Bull Powertrains will take responsibility for all manufacturing and servicing of Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri’s engines,” according to a statement.
That last part was reiterated by Masashi Yamamoto, Honda F1 managing director after the 2021 U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. Asked whether a one-year transition was enough for Red Bull to learn all the know-hows Honda has learned over its long history in Formula 1 (Honda has been racing on and off for 57 years in F1), Yamamoto-san said through a translator that the challenge won’t be easy, but they must make it work. “We have to work together with our engineers, and we will do our best,” he said during a press conference.
While all Honda Racing Development employees in the U.K. ‘s Milton Keynes headquarters will become employees of Red Bull Powertrains, it will be a busy year for the two companies for the transition to go smoothly.
“We are very pleased that our ambitious and exciting Red Bull Powertrains project will be strongly supported by Honda, technically and operationally, in 2022 and this will help ensure that Red Bull’s transition to the status of chassis and power unit manufacturer is seamless,” said Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner in a statement.
Although Honda is leaving the sport, the automaker is making a strong push until the end. This weekend we saw the Acura logos on the wings of all four cars, the driver’s suits, and visors. It was a special moment for the brand, especially after getting two podiums in a close race.
It hasn’t been decided whether the Honda sponsorship will continue on Red Bull and AlphaTauri’s cars next year, and with Honda’s home track of Suzuka not hosting a race this year due to the pandemic, there’s hope Japanese fans will see the familiar logos on the cars one more time.
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