Honda is no longer going undercover in Red Bull and Alpha Tauri. The logo of the Japanese manufacturer returns to the engine cover and to the official name of the power unit (Honda RBPT) due to a commercial agreement that adds to the already existing technological alliance between the two teams and HRC. The Japanese contribution was key in Verstappen’s titles in 2021 and 2022 and the partnership between the Japanese and Red Bull will continue until 2025. But Ford’s arrival in 2026 cloudy, in a way, Honda’s prospects in F1. This Monday, in a press conference from Sakura broadcast virtually, the HRC staff has given explanations.
“We closely follow F1that is why we are registered as an engine manufacturer (with the FIA) from 2026”, says the CEO, Koji Watanabe. “F1 is heading towards electrification and carbon neutrality. That future is aligned with our objectives, which is why we wanted to register as an engine manufacturer. We want to follow it closely, so we have decided to register. We have been contacted by multiple F1 teams. Although there are no concrete decisions on whether we will join or not ”, he points out. so they have proposals on the table but it is not clear that they will be part of the grid in 2026 along with the rest of the confirmed engines: Mercedes, Ferrari, Alpine, RBPT Ford and Audi.
The Red Bull-Ford partnership is a new reality: “We received advance notice. Until 2026, we will be with Red Bull and we want to win the World Cup by 2025. From then on, Red Bull will partner with Ford and we are not in a position to comment. it was not a failure (not reaching an agreement for the future), we didn’t see it that way. We were in contact with Red Bull, communication was constant and many topics were discussed. It was decided that we would not continue beyond 2026. It’s as simple as that”, Watanabe expresses before sliding who leaves whom: “They made their decision.” Red Bull is not in F1 to make friends.
More reliability in 2023
Back to the present, the chief engineer Tetsushi Kakuda It threatens with more reliability that allows consolidating performance in the power unit in 2023: “In 2022 we supply and operate the engines and provide data from Sakura and on the circuits. We had a clear advantage in the electrical part, especially the MGU-H. There were no critical issues during the season. By 2023 we cannot increase the power due to the regulation, but we have taken steps to strengthen reliability. We also prioritized benefits last year and reliability was compromised to recover power lost with synthetic fuels, which increased the load on the engine”.
The round table was completed by the executive director, Yasuaki Asaki, who announces his departure from the company in April. He stood on the podium at the Japanese GP in Suzuka to collect the manufacturers’ trophy in Verstappen’s second crown. “If Honda does not compete, there is no Honda. Racing is in our DNA. The pinnacle of motorsport is Formula 1 and we must try and win”, sums up the leader, who was part of Honda’s two great periods in the World Championship. Its future beyond 2026 is not assured, but they confirm that in the Sakura factory they have human resources to develop a new engine if the decision is made. The problem is that it is not taken. And time is pressing.