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F1 "not a closed door" for Honda

NEWS STORY
19/07/2022

Despite leaving F1 - for a fourth time - in 2021, Honda Racing Corporation president, Koji Watanabe admits the 2026 engine regulations could cause Japanese manufacturer to return.

It was in October 2020, that Honda announced its decision to leave the sport at the end of the following season, citing its need to funnel its corporate resources in research and development into the areas of future power unit and energy technologies, including fuel cell vehicle and battery EV technologies, which, it claimed, would be the core of carbon-free technologies.

Winning three races that season, the following year saw Max Verstappen win the title, by which time the Japanese manufacturer had agreed a deal which would see Red Bull set up its own powertrains division using Honda's IP and many of its staff in order to continue using its technology for the duration of the current engine formula.

While, the newly formed Red Bull Powertrains provides the rebadged Honda units for both its works team and AlphaTauri, speculation over the last twelve months has linked the company with Audi, which, along with Porsche, is understood to be considering entering F1 in 2026 if the new engine formula is environmentally acceptable.

Ironically, it is the same desire to see a greener F1 that could yet cause Honda to have a change of heart.

"Formula 1 is the top motorsports category," Honda Racing Corporation president, Koji Watanabe tells the official F1 website, "so we are always watching what is happening in the F1 world.

"Of course, we just finished and concluded our activities, so nothing has been discussed within the Honda company about 2026 season. So, no plan," he admits.

"It is not a closed door," he says of F1, which, other than greener engines and a 100% sustainable fuel, intends to be carbon net zero by 2030. "My understanding is that F1 is discussing to decide the regulations for 2026, and definitely the direction is carbon neutrality. That is the same direction as us. It is probably also a good opportunity to study carbon neutrality to F1, so it's not a closed door.

"I don't know the exact time frame," he admits. "But if we want to return to F1 in 2026, probably we need to decide within one to one and a half years."

In the meantime...

"Honda is going to be a kind of team partner of both teams," he says. "The detail is not decided yet, but HRC will become a kind of technical partner of both teams until 2025."

As for those "corporate resources" mentioned when Honda made its announcement to leave F1 in 2020, it should not be forgotten that Honda, which had bought BAR at the end of 2006, subsequently sold its F1 team to Ross Brawn in March 2009 for 1, the Briton, who went on to secure both titles that season, then sold a 75.1% stake to Mercedes in November of the same year.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by alvarezh3, 18/07/2022 20:47

"More competitors=better show........no?

I wish for two more teams."

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Wokingchap, 18/07/2022 11:57

"Regardless of what Honda have done and achieved In the past, I for one would be very pleased to see them return."

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