Recently, Honda announced its decision to leave Formula 1 by the end of 2021. The decision came as a huge surprise to everyone considering Honda’s huge success in this season, with both their customers getting a win.
According to former F1 driver, Ralf Schumacher, Honda’s decision can be traced back to financial struggles, a consequence of the ongoing pandemic.
In his column, Schumacher expressed his opinion on Honda’s exit. “The viewer is interested in exciting races. Less about the technology,” Ralf said. “It is important that the factory teams present the performance of the customer teams correctly.
“This is important for the viewer. That has to remain transparent. And then it won’t be a problem either,” Ralf said. “Honda has suffered greatly from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The sales figures and turnovers have plummeted.
“So, the exit has mainly financial reasons. This is how the decision can be understood.”
Honda’s exit comes as a huge blow to a couple of teams in Formula 1. Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri are the only teams running with Honda’s engines at the moment, who are now at the mercy of lady luck and in the hunt for a new supplier.
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Mercedes not an option post-Honda Exit
Ralf is confident that Red Bull can find an engine supplier before the start of the 2022 season. However, he is certain that the Milton-Keynes based outfit won’t be looking to Germany to see them through these troubling times.
“We don’t have to worry about RB in the medium or long term. There are enough options for them to be optimistic about the F1 future,” the German said.
“The most likely scenario will be a collaboration with an existing engine manufacturer. Mercedes already supports several teams. I don’t see that very realistically.”
Apart from Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault remain the only hopes for Red Bull to stay in Formula 1 beyond 2021. Renault and Red Bull already share a storied history; the way their relationship came to an end is not something neither of the team would be proud of.
The Red Bull-Renault controversy
Ralf Schumacher points out to the distasteful relationship between Red Bull and Honda, which could potentially hamper Red Bull’s plan on teaming up with the French manufacturers.
“Between the Renault manager [Cyril] Abiteboul and the duo [Christian] Horner and [Helmut] Marko on the Red Bull side, there were private tussles at the end of the collaboration,” he added. “Renault wasn’t good enough then either.
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“RB has made no secret of this. Abiteboul will continue to be the decisive man with the French. A few things would have to be cleared up first- of a human nature.”
Neither Red Bull nor AlphaTauri have opened up about their new engine suppliers from the 2022 season. But from the looks of it, Renault are looking like the most sensible option of the three.
(The quotes are translated from German using Google Translate)