Formula One is losing a prominent engine manufacturer from the grid. It was announced on October 1st that Honda Racing would leave Formula One after the 2021 campaign has closed out. Executives behind this decision claimed that their goals of shifting towards “Carbon Neutrality” is the reason for leaving the sport. However, Honda Racing had become the 2nd best engine supplier in Formula One. The proper reasoning for their departure is likely financial burdens associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Honda Racing supplies AlphaTauri (Formally Toro Rosso) and Red Bull Aston Martin Racing. This contract has been prominent for two seasons, with both teams previously operating on Renault engines. Honda Racing had returned to active duty in Formula One by 2015, two years after they’d announced their revival in 2013. McLaren would receive the first F1 Honda Engines throughout the 2010s, hoping to recreate success earned by Alain Prost & Ayrton Senna from 1988 to 1991. That rekindling would never catch fire and would see McLaren enter a downward spiral for five years.
Multiple problems can arise from the fallout of Honda Racing leaving Formula One. It could result in Max Verstappen leaving Red Bull for another team, which would see Red Bull lose its potential champion to likely Mercedes or Racing Point. Red Bull Directors have expressed disappointment in Honda leaving the sport, which has obtained thirteen podium finished under the guidance of Max Verstappen. Considering that Verstappen’s contract maintains an “Exit Clause” for any significant changes that occur, it’s likely he’ll enact that clause if another team providers him a better car.
No New Supplier Yet
Details regarding which engine supplier will power the Red Bull F1 Cars after 2022 hasn’t been revealed. It’s known that Renault won’t be given an opportunity, and Mercedes will likely be reluctant to provide Red Bull with a power unit. The same would apply to Mercedes. This means that everything must be brought in-house, or Red Bull must convince another car manufacturer to become their engine supplier. That’s one of the most challenging tasks available for any Formula One team and won’t likely be a reality for Christian Horner’s Red Bull Racing. In-house development could result in an immediate decline for podium contention for both Red Bull & AlphaTauri. The days of Red Bull being champion contenders could nearly be over.