The announcement by Honda to quit F1 at the end of the 2021 season has caught the sport - and constructor partners Red Bull Racing - by surprise, but the manufacturer has gone to efforts to explain its unexpected decision.

In a long, detailed statement from the Japanese firm, President, Representative Director and CEO of Honda Motor Co., Ltd Takahiro Hachigo speaks at great length at the difficult decision to pull his brand from F1 - a sport it has had a rich association with over the decades - and points to the increasing difficulty in justifying its involvement as a time when the automotive industry itself is forging a different, more sustainable path.

 

 

It isn't the first time Honda has left the sport unexpectedly, with its global financial downturn-prompted 2008 exit - hot on the heels of BMW and Toyota - also leaving a significant void. However, on that occasion the decision came during the off-season, with the team going on to be revived as BrawnGP - under the eponymous stewardship of Ross Brawn - and famously going on to dominate the 2009 F1 season with a Mercedes engine.

To its credit this time around, the announcement comes well in advance with Red Bull and Honda looking forward to eight more F1 races for 2020 and an entire 2021 F1 season.

Touching on the satisfaction it has gleaned from eventually turning its latest F1 endeavour into a race-winning success after a high-profile yet disastrous return to the sport in 2015 in partnership with McLaren, Hachigo explains the company's move into sustainable automotive technologies and a commitment towards carbon neutrality means F1 doesn't no longer aligns with its ethos. Read the full statement below.

FULL Speech by Takahiro Hachigo/President, Representative Director and CEO of Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

Honda has decided to conclude its participation in the FIA Formula One World Championship as a power unit supplier at the end of the 2021 season.

In 2015, Honda resumed competition in F1, the most prestigious automobile racing series in the world, with the goal to win using our own energy management technologies. And this year has been our 6th season.  Initially, Honda experienced a number of difficulties in the areas of performance and reliability and continued an uphill battle.  However, by demonstrating the collective strength of “All Honda” – including the utilization of our aircraft engine technologies to improve performance, and utilization of our mass-production technologies to improve the combustion efficiency of our engines – we were able to significantly increase our competitiveness.

As for partners, which is the key factor in competing in F1, we have been privileged to work with amazing teams, namely Scuderia AlphaTauri since 2018 and Red Bull Racing since the 2019 season. Members of AlphaTauri, which was Scuderia Toro Rosso at that time, believed in Honda’s potential and signed a contract with us. Since then, they have been fully supporting Honda and we kept advancing ourselves together. AlphaTauri Honda claimed our first victory at the Italian Grand Prix last month, and it was the 50th race we competed together since we began our challenge. It was the result of our unrelenting effort to date, and we had no words to describe the joy we experienced at Honda.

With Red Bull Racing, our top team well-equipped for winning, we set a clear goal of winning the championship titles and established a strong partnership. As a result, we have been able to demonstrate our high competitiveness. Thanks to our solid partnerships with both teams and high level of competitiveness we have earned, we have claimed three wins during the last season and two wins so far this season.  

On behalf of Honda, I would like to express our gratitude again to both Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri for enabling us to fulfill our ambitions of winning F1 races.  Also, I would like to express our appreciation to the FIA, Formula One and many people who were involved for all the support they have given to Honda since we decided to compete in the F1.  And more than anything, we are grateful to our fans for their passionate cheering and encouragement for Honda. Thank you.

Now, shifting focus onto the business environment facing Honda, we see the automobile industry is undergoing a once-in-one-hundred-years period of great transformation.  It has been a while since we started communicating Honda’s intention to focus on the creation of new mobility products and new value for the future.  Especially, we view our environmental initiatives as one of the top priorities of Honda as a mobility manufacturer.  

 

 

In 2010, Honda set a vision to realize “the joy and freedom of mobility” and “a sustainable society where people can enjoy life,” and since then, we have been making progress in our initiatives to strive for the elimination of our environmental footprint. 
At this time, Honda made a decision to further accelerate such initiatives and strive for “the realization of carbon neutrality by 2050” in order to realize a sustainable society.  To this end, our current goal of “electrifying two-thirds of our global automobile unit sales in 2030,” will become a checkpoint we must pass before we get to the 2050 goal, and therefore we must further accelerate the introduction of our carbon-free technologies.

 

To realize our goals, we will focus on strengthening our research and development in the areas of future power unit and energy technologies. In April of this year, we revamped the organizational structure of Honda R&D which will focus on the future technologies of Honda, and we created a new center called Innovative Research Excellence, Power Unit & Energy.

While leveraging various power unit technologies Honda has amassed to date, including power units for FCVs, battery EVs and turbo jet engines for aircraft, this center has already started research and development of new power units which will support a carbon-neutral society of the future. Moreover, to realize carbon neutrality, we need not only carbon-free power units but also carbon-free energy. Honda has already been researching into various energy technologies, but we will make a major enhancement in this area as well.

For the future realization of carbon neutrality, Honda will make a major change in the course of our challenges and concentrate our corporate resources on research and development of new power units and energy technologies.  As a part of this change, we decided to allocate our energy management and fuel technologies as well as our human resources amassed through F1 activities to research and development of advanced power unit and energy technologies.

Under such an enhanced R&D system and capability, Honda will focus on the creation of advanced power unit and energy technologies and the realization of carbon neutrality in the future.

In F1, Honda achieved a certain level of success by attaining our goal to claim victories. And now, we will funnel our strengths into achieving innovations in the new field of creating carbon-free power units and energy and realizing carbon neutrality.  This will be a challenge as tough and difficult as competing in F1, and it will be a huge challenge Honda must take on together with society. Today’s announcement is also about expressing Honda’s determination to take on a new challenge of realizing carbon neutrality. Together with stakeholders of Honda, we will continue our all-our effort and strive for the realization of carbon neutrality.

Ever since our founding, Honda has been advancing its technologies, developing its engineers and nurturing its strong passion for victory through challenges we have taken in motorsports. Racing is in Honda’s DNA, and therefore Honda will continue to be passionate about taking on challenges and striving to become No. 1 in all categories of racing in which Honda participates.

We still have seven more races this season, and we are introducing a new power unit with improved performance for the next season. In order to fulfill expectations our fans place on Honda, we will work together with Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri to continue competing with our utmost effort and strive for more victories all the way to the end.  

Thank you in advance for your continuous understanding and support for Honda’s motorsports activities and also for the new challenge we will take.

Thank you. 

 

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