Honda: motor partner Red Bull to leave F1 at the end of 2021

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Christian Horner, Director of the Red Bull team

Honda, the engine partner of Red Bull, will leave Formula 1 at the end of 2021.

The move leaves Red Bull and Alpha Tauri to find an engine supplier and sport with just three engine manufacturers.

Honda said the move was the result of the auto industry’s transformation from internal combustion engines.

They pursue “carbon neutrality by 2050” through “future energy and power generation technologies, including fuel cell vehicle and battery technologies”.

Red Bull Team Director Christian Horner said: “The shift in focus within the automotive industry has led to Honda’s decision to redeploy its resources and we understand and respect the reasoning behind this.

“Their decision presents obvious challenges for us as a team, but we have been here before and with our in-depth strength we are well prepared and equipped to respond effectively, as we have proven in the past.

“Our common goal for the rest of the 2020 and 2021 seasons is unchanged, to fight for the victories and the challenge for the championship. “

Red Bull said they “remain committed to the sport for the long haul” after signing a new contract with F1 last month.

“We look forward to entering a new era of innovation, development and success,” said Horner. “As a group, we will now take our time to assess and find the most competitive powertrain solution for 2022 and beyond. “

Honda returned to F1 in 2015 and spent three difficult years with McLaren, with the engine and the car not at a competitive level.

The company has moved on to the Red Bull Toro Rosso junior team for 2018, then to Red Bull itself for 2019, and has won a total of five grand prizes in the past two years.

However, Red Bull and Honda were unable to provide a consistent challenge for world champions Mercedes, who this year have increased their margins on the pitch.

Honda president Takahiro Hachigo has said that despite the decision, he will continue his plans to design a new powertrain for 2021, with the aim of fighting for the world championship.

What is Red Bull doing now?

Red Bull has won five Grands Prix in the past two years

Honda’s decision puts Red Bull in a difficult position when it comes to supplying engines.

Mercedes will already supply three teams alongside its factory team in 2021 – McLaren, Racing Point and Williams – and has previously refused to supply engines to Red Bull.

And Red Bull parted ways with Renault in acrimonious terms at the end of 2018, after years the team criticized the company for the poor performance of its engines.

Renault, which returned to F1 as a manufacturer in 2016, is unlikely to be particularly keen on taking over the partnership, even though the duo have won four consecutive world titles in doubles from 2010-13.

Ferrari supplied engines to Haas and Alfa Romeo in addition to their factory team, and last supplied engines to a Red Bull brand team with Toro Rosso in 2013.

What are the ramifications for F1?

Honda’s decision highlights the complex and delicate situation F1 faces as it examines how to move forward with a new engine formula from the mid-2020s.

The engines the sport currently uses are 1.6-liter turbo hybrid V6s, an architecture developed after consultation with global automakers, and they have produced a revolutionary breakthrough in efficiency.

The thermal efficiency of an F1 engine – its conversion rate from energy-fuel to power – is over 50%, compared to just over 30% for a typical road car engine.

However, what Honda described on Friday as “a time of great transformation once every 100 years” for the road car industry has seen a huge shift in focus towards electrification, as automakers seek to address the challenge of the climate crisis. and legislative restrictions on internal combustion engines in many countries.

Electric technology is not sufficiently developed to propel a vehicle at F1 speeds for the duration of a grand prix, so the sport’s highest category cannot be fully electric.

F1 bosses are looking for other ways to reduce carbon consumption under current hybrid technology and aim to promote synthetic fuels, which capture carbon from the atmosphere in their manufacture and are therefore carbon neutral.

But Honda’s decision raises the question of how long other manufacturers will consider hybrid engines – mixing internal combustion and electrification – to remain relevant to them as a method of promotion and development, although Mercedes insists that hybrid engines will be an important part of their route. – range of cars for years to come.

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