Honda Zooms out of F1 Racing

Curtis Liu, Online Editor

Honda is leaving Formula 1 racing – for the fourth time in the history of the sport.

Honda’s first withdrawal came at the tragic incident of Jo Schlesser at the 1968 French Grand Prix. In the following years, Honda’s technology improved drastically and Honda reentered Formula 1 in 1983 and ended up withdrawing due to an economic recession in Japan in 1992. Honda returned in a similar fashion in 2000, but the most recent occurrence of Honda leaving Formula 1 occurred during the 2008 recession. Yet last time, they dropped out of the competition series without prior notice, leaving racers without sponsors for a few months.

Senior Chance Lee, an amateur fan of Formula 1 sports, states that “Honda has a long and controversial tenure in Formula 1. The act of leaving harms their engine partners and causes them to scramble for new sponsors, which sometimes came unannounced such as the 2008 exit. 

The positive takeaway from this year’s exit is that they announced their departure one year before it was actually happening.” 

Certainly, when announced in 2021, Honda stated that they will continue their partnership with Red Bull and AlphaTauri through the end of 2022, and continue to supply power units until 2025.

Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault will be the only three remaining superpowers. Per Formula 1 rules, Renault would need to supply the engines for Red Bull and AlphaTauri since they have the fewest customers, or Mercedes and Ferrari may provide them engines after 2025.

Honda has cited the withdrawal of their championship aspirations in Formula 1 due to a once in a century transformation era for their own company. Due to COVID-19 and the economic implications that come along with it, Honda has decided to halt F1 productivity, similar to their exit in 1992 and 2008.

Honda has released an official statement, causing controversy across the Formula 1 League: “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.” 

Honda has cited the withdrawal of their championship aspirations in Formula 1 due to an environmental transformation era for their own company, effectively shifting its resources from racing to development in the modern world. However, other competitors and fans claim that this may not be the case. Seeing Honda’s cycle of exiting and returning to Formula 1 every decade causes this action to be questionable by Honda.

Senior Eric Sheng states that “seeing a major manufacturer drop out of Formula 1 makes it slightly less exciting for the competition, yet it’s not surprising that Honda dropped again due to its history.” 

While Honda tries to shift its focus on the environment, Sheng believes that the reason is “similar to that of 2008: the Japanese government is only willing to focus on developing one type of engine, which in 2021 is the hydrogen engine.”

Formula 1 enthusiasts may see this exit as another cycle in history. Honda’s departure will come off as unsurprising for 2022, and will continue throughout the future of the sport.