Honda Motor explained its decision to quit F1 as it added about a new engine for 2021, while relaying that they don’t have any electric racing plans.

After months of wait, Honda officially announced its departure from F1 at the end of the 2021 season, thereby ending its deal with Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri, leaving them in a big limbo, without an engine supplier for 2022 and beyond.

They switched to Honda in 2019 after ending its contract with Renault – and possibly burning a bridge too – but now find themselves in a position to get back together. The rules can force them back together but it will depend on the two eventually.

In the meantime, Honda held a press conference with CEO Takahiro Hachigo, who explained its decision to quite, as they stressed on carbon neutrality by 2050 and having two-thirds of its fleet being electrified by 2030, in line with automotive sphere.

It looks like a shift in the mindset of Honda, where they wish to attain a bold ambition and set the tone for the automotive market, rather than follow a lead. This means that they have to put most of its resources in achieving this than push ahead with F1.

The news is still a shock as F1 generally provides a good platform and after a bad start, Honda picked itself up and got the wins, not just with Red Bull but also AlphaTauri. Looks like that was the catalyst to not push forward but end its term, eventually.

While they wish to win the constructors’ championship but that seems a hard task with Mercedes always in a step ahead mode, and so having race victories is termed as the big achievement. They are pinning the hope in 2021 with a new engine but it is not a given.

On the pull out, Hachigo maintained that the clear objective of Honda is to be leaders in automotive industry and so they initiated work towards that. Most of the engineers involved in F1 will be moved to Innovative Research Excellence Power Unit and Energy.

Decision to pull out, when taken, if COVID:

Hachigo: “This decision concluding our participation, we had extended it by one year, we have been thinking a lot of things over in our mind. In August we communicated our thoughts to Red Bull Racing and we determined to conclude participation at the end of September actually. It is not really for the consideration of short-term revenues and profits, but we want to go for the carbon neutrality for 2050.

“We want to have that target set up that by mid-point in 2030, we have two-thirds of our automotive into electric vehicle. We want to accelerate that to reach our 2020 target. We want to focus engineering resources into that area, it is not really a profits consideration or Covid, it is an engineering resources, that it what it is mainly based on.”

Engineers shift to other areas, the initial plans:

Hachigo: “We want to aim for 2050, realise the carbon neutrality for 2050. So that’s where we want to place our resources toward that. So I am not thinking on re-participating in Formula 1. However, as I said, racing is Honda’s DNA so for other races that Honda is participating in currently we will continue that with our passion that we typically have for those races. The Honda engineers working in F1 right now, I want to make sure that all the technology they have fostered and cultivated themselves during F1, I would like to talk to them, so that their work can be directed towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

“This will be a difficult challenge, just as difficult as F1, so for these engineers it should be a good task as well. This is the task we want to encourage them and managed those engineers. By doing this, people would want to join Honda as engineers. We want to develop good products which can encourage to join us. As I said before, this change is not for shot-term gains but done to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

“If we think about the environmental initiatives, I have been thinking where can we deploy the resource of engineers and we concluded that we need to do it in power unit area, that is why I took the big decision. We need to make sure that this change in re-allocation leads to a fruit and that is the management decision. There is great sensitivity regarding the environment and so we took the decision thinking that.”

New Honda engine in 2021 to help in title win:

Hachigo: “We still have seven races to go this season and next year we have another season. And then we’ll do our very best to try to win. For next year we will launch our new power unit so that together with the Red Bull we are going to aim for the season championship.”

Electric racing, brand hit or gain, thorough discussion:

Hachigo: Now that we’ve decided to conclude our participation in Formula 1, we would like to promote other motorsports. So we hope that in those other stages, we hope to be able to boost enthusiasm across Japan for the different kinds of motorsports as well in those other venues. As or other electric vehicle races, we don’t have any specific plans for participating as of now. At this time we are aiming for carbon neutrality in 2050. Now, this will be a big challenge for Honda so I hope that our fans will support us for us taking on that challenge as well.

“Continuing participation in F1 and enhancing brand capability was one choice and the other one is to lean towards and pour resources into carbon neutrality in 2050. It was thoroughly discussed internally within management and through thorough discussions we reached this conclusion. F1 is one challenge, we have been able to win, that was one of the targets, we do have seven races and next year so we want to get good results as well. But at the same time, taking in environmental consideration, taking that path is another challenge, to which everyone agreed unanimously at the top management level.

Bounced back well after early trouble, F1 energy not same for our objective:

Hachigo: “In 2015, when we re-joined F1, it was difficult time for all of us but with Toro Rosso, we had a fresh start. Especially, Mr. Tost’s team, I have appreciation for him as together with them we were able to win our 50th race with them. Unfortunately, with our target of 2050, we have to re-allocate our resources. Within our company, there was some opinions that we should continue competing in F1 but as the President I made the decision.

“Honda is aiming for the 2030 to electrify two-thirds of the automobile sales and also achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The F1 activity has been focusing on energy research and those are bit different from other races, in particular for those races who got involved in F1 activities, they have gained the technology needed for what we aim to do. For other activities going forward, racing is the DNA of Honda, so we would like to continue participate in other championships.”

Here’s the news on Honda leaving F1

Here’s Cyril Abiteboul responding to Honda leaving and providing to Red Bull