Ross Brawn is of the hope that Honda returns to F1 after 2026 regulations change as he speaks of win record breaking sooner than his expectation.
Honda dropped a surprise bomb ahead of the F1 Eifel GP by announcing their departure from the sport post the 2021 season, thereby ending its deal with Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri, leaving them in a limbo for 2022 and beyond.
Honda has been particular about their carbon neutrality aim by 2050 but also admitted that there were debates whether to continue in F1 or not – which was latter in the end. The hybrid technology has been efficient certainly but the automotive market is changing again.
F1, though, is due for an engine regulations change from 2026 onward which is likely to stay on despite the hopes from Red Bull camp that they can persuade to bring forward those changes, so that Honda or anyone else can enter the game.
While that door seems to be heading towards a closure, Brawn is hopeful about getting Honda back in F1 as discussions about the 2026 regulations will have manufacturers’ in their to better understand the way forward, aligning with the automotive changes.
“It is unfortunate Honda are leaving Formula 1 at the end of 2021. It’s the fourth time in my racing career they stepped back and come back again,” wrote Brawn in his column. “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,” summed up Brawn.
While he was hopeful for Honda, there was praise from Brawn for Renault after the French manufacturer finally achieved the podium they were after, ever since coming into F1 in 2016. There was some luck but Daniel Ricciardo was there to take it as well.
“I’ve felt for a while, Renault were promising but never delivering consistently but I have to say since we returned to racing in July, they have started to deliver and the team looks like it has a very nice upward trajectory,” wrote Brawn. “If they keep that up and carry through this competitiveness into the new era in 2022, you can imagine Renault – or Alpine as they will be then – will be back at the front.
“Fernando is coming, too, which is incredibly exciting. Renault have eased themselves above the pack and will soon be setting their sights on the top two. Will Ricciardo be regretting his decision to leave Renault for McLaren? I don’t think he’s that way inclined. He left Red Bull and went to Renault, after all.
“His character is such that he sits down and carefully weighs up his situation and then makes a decision and sticks to it. Like all of us, he may have off moments where he has sat and thought about it, but I think he will commit to the new team in a massive way,” summed up Brawn, as he opened up on Lewis Hamilton matching the F1 win record.
Having helped Michael Schumacher to attain the 91 F1 race wins record, Brawn did not think that anyone could be on the verge of matching it, leave alone breaking it but Hamilton is just one grand prix away from doing so.
The dominant run, especially post the 2016 F1 season, has helped Hamilton to achieve it rather sooner, something which has impressed Brawn again. “Lewis drove an exemplary race in style, which has earned him an equal number of race wins to Michael Schumacher,” wrote Brawn. “It’s a remarkable achievement.
“Michael always said that records are there to be broken, but I admit I didn’t expect to see this one broken so soon. And I can’t imagine Lewis is going to stop here. The way he’s going, he will raise the bar in the next few years to a level that will be astonishing. His race was relatively efficient and effective, almost methodical, though I know from the perspective of the pit wall and inside the cockpit, it would have been anything but methodical.
“Michael was a driver who was very dramatic on track in many ways and had a very quiet persona away from the track. Lewis is almost the opposite – quiet but lethal in terms of delivery on track but his flamboyance comes out away from the track. You couldn’t have two more different characters. Both have achieved an astonishing accomplishment,” summed up Brawn.
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