Honda is calling it quits in once again. The automaker announced on Friday it will leave the top-tier motorsport after the 2021 season, just ahead of planned chassis changes for the 2022 season. Honda, which operates as an engine supplier and not a constructor, currently makes power units for Red Bull Racing and its junior team AlphaTauri (nee Toro Rosso).
The company, which returned to F1 in 2015 following its previous exit as a constructor in 2008, said the automotive industry is in the middle of "a once-in-one-hundred-years period of great transformation." To that end, "Honda has decided to strive for the realization of carbon neutrality by 2050," it said in its announcement. Resources currently funneled into F1 engine development will shift to battery-electric powertrains and hydrogen fuel cell development -- two pillars of the automaker's future carbon-free technologies.
Honda's decision is a blow to the motorsport. With Honda's exit, only Renault, Ferrari will survive as power unit suppliers. Per current FIA regulations, the company with the fewest customers -- Renault -- is on deck to supply teams in need of a power unit. It's unclear what sort of solution Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri will seek.and
"Whilst we are disappointed not to continue our partnership with Honda," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said in a statement, "we are enormously proud of our joint success, delivering five wins and 15 podiums for both Red Bull owned teams and we thank everyone at Honda for their extraordinary efforts and commitment."
The Japanese automaker made a rocky reentry into the motorsport after first supplying McLaren with engines. While Honda and McLaren severed ties, Red Bull and AlphaTauri decided to plop Honda's unit in their race cars with far better success in recent years. Honda amassed three first-place finishes with Red Bull last year and two wins so far this year.