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So what now?

NEWS STORY
02/10/2020

It comes to something when Chris Sylt begins an email with the words, "now that was a surprise", but the fact is that today's news from Honda has caught everyone on the hop.

If the Japanese manufacturer thought that this might be a 'good day to bury bad news', what with President Donald Trump and the First Lady announcing that they have contracted the coronavirus, it was clearly wrong, for this is big news in itself.

Fact is, in all the excitement, what with the news that all ten teams have signed up to the new Concorde Agreement, of which more later, we'd all kind of forgotten the elephant in the room, that rather large one sporting a hachimaki.

Yet, if we are honest, it was almost inevitable.

Only a month ago we were wondering whether Renault would remain in F1, what with its lack of success and the obvious direction the automotive industry is taking. Indeed, while we pondered the fact that a $200m 'dilution tax' would prohibit new teams from entering the sport, the whole 'move to electric' was ruling out any new manufacturers joining, while causing the existing manufacturers to quietly eye the exit.

If nothing else, today's announcement signals that a change is coming and sooner or later F1 is going to have to accept it.

Indeed, just hours after Honda's announcement, Lewis Hamilton tweeted his support for the #TheTimeIsNow campaign aimed at leading "the UK towards a healthier, greener, fairer future".

"We choose a future with clean air, reforestation, net-zero emissions. We #ChooseLifeNow," it proclaims, with Hamilton adding that "right now, we have the opportunity to create a cleaner, fairer world, where no one is left behind. I’m asking the UK government to #ChooseLifeNow and take strong climate action. I Choose Life. What do you choose?"

Back to Honda... and the fact is that this decision wasn't taken last night and the statement issued first thing this morning. No, the decision was taken some time ago and Red Bull, AlphaTauri and no doubt the FIA and F1 were duly informed.

While Honda insists that it is building a new power unit for next season and is targeting the title, Christian Horner and Helmut Marko will be more concerned at what happens in 2022.

With Eddie Jordan's suggestion of Lewis joining Max at Red Bull blown out of the water, the Austrian team's existing fears of losing the Dutchman must have gone through the roof following Honda's announcement. After all, the Dutchman was already making no secret of his frustration with the Honda unit, how will he possibly be placated at the thought of a return to Renault.

That, of course, is assuming Renault would be willing to supply Red Bull. Though they won four titles together, that seemingly counted for nothing once the hybrid era caught the French manufacturer off guard, and by the end of the 'relationship' the pair were at one another's throats at every opportunity.

Mercedes and Ferrari both refused to supply Red Bull, which is when Bernie tried to induce a fresh manufacturer into F1... with no success.

Ignoring the increasing move to electric within the automotive sector, Liberty isn't Bernie Ecclestone, and will find it even harder - read impossible - to entice a newcomer.

Consequently, if Red Bull and AlphaTauri are to remain, the most likely move is to build their own engines, possibly in a deal with Honda... and let's not forget that other elephant in the room, Andy Cowell.

Over the Sochi weekend, following the official confirmation of Stefano Domenicali's appointment, attention turned to his predecessor, Chase Carey.

The man was almost eulogised by team bosses and sections of the media, yet just even days later we realise the precarious position in which the sport stands.

Other than the move to electric, the automotive industry has been hit hard (and then some) by the pandemic, and there is no realistic sign of this easing off.

The sport has done well, brilliantly even, to get a 17 race schedule together, but what of 2021?

Much of last weekend's sycophancy over Carey's rein as F1 CEO centred on his achievement in getting all ten teams to agree to the new Concorde, thus "guaranteeing the sport's future" for the next five years.

However, the fact is that all ten teams have a one year break clause, which effectively defeats the whole object.

Today's news will have everyone focussing on Red Bull and AlphaTauri and who they will partner with, whereas there is a much, much bigger picture - a much, much bigger elephant if you will - and sooner or later the sport is going to have to address it.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by F One, 05/10/2020 16:23

"Tell all the big car manufacturers to go forth and multiply. F1 doesn't need any of them. F1 does not need to be relevant. No sport does."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Superbird70, 03/10/2020 0:47

"@ alvarezh3 Didn't Hamilton just launch and Extreme E racing team? "

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3. Posted by alvarezh3, 02/10/2020 20:46

"At SuzukaS2K:

A followup on your comment. Since Hamilton has not signet his future contract with MB Petronas F1, I am expecting him to sign with MBs EQ Formula E team so he can really confirm his position with actions, otherwise the purpose of his intentions are to receive publicity in order to obtain praise and glory in being a so called "green" advocate."

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4. Posted by flyinglap, 02/10/2020 18:03

"How about Ross Brawn going for it once more? Acquiring the PU-related assets from Honda and supplying with Brawn-badged engines the 2022's championship winning team! Honda already know what that would feel like."

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5. Posted by The edge, 02/10/2020 17:19

"As Ferrari & Mercedes already supply multiple teams, Renault are contractually obliged to supply PUs to both RBR & AT, otherwise they will not be allowed to participate. It’s in the rules they signed up to

Whether RBR & AT want them is another story but their reliability has been rock-solid so far this season, and probably have the 2nd most power


"

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6. Posted by Rock Doc, 02/10/2020 16:11

"If Dietrich sees a future in e-sports and not F1 then it is good bye Red Bull and AlpaTauri.

He has always had a good eye on promoting Red Bull products. If the trend is to e-sports and away from the the old then they are gone. I would not be surprised to see them use their 1 year clause."

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7. Posted by kdxrider, 02/10/2020 14:40

"Frank and Claire Williams sudden sale and then quitting altogether starts to make more sense ---- "

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8. Posted by SuzukaS2K, 02/10/2020 14:33

"Oh Hamilton, you are rich with Irony. Crusading for a cleaner planet whilst burning fossil fuels for sport. You should show your true commitment and quit racing to make a true statement about your position instead of solidifying your position amongst the celebs with their 'do as I say, not as I do' attitudes."

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9. Posted by kenji, 02/10/2020 14:26

"The news certainly has created a storm of uncertainty, especially at Red Bull. That's not a bad thing. Cyril would secretly be having a chuckle, or two! The fact remains, where to now. I do belive that there are now e few alternatives open for discussion, the main one being Red Bull acquire the engine assets owned by Honda just down the road from Red Bull. With Andy Cowell swanning around and Mario Illien possibly available [ where has he actually gone ? ] I would've thought it made sense to put this all together. Honda would do a fire sale deal, they have in the past, and a new engine supplier is up and running. It could become an independent fourth supplier if they really wanted to do it by offering Andy Cowell equity. That would give him further purpose but then again he may be looking at getting out of F1 entirely! That would be a great loss. Nothing ,apart from Mercedes winning every race, is boring."

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