Honda To Pull Out of F1 After Being Publicly Humiliated by Red Bull At The Russian GP
Honda is set to pull out of Formula One at the end of the 2021 season. The sudden and unexpected announcement leaves Red Bull and its B-Team, Alpha Tauri, at the edge of a cliff and with no other option but to jump into the unknown. Honda’s decision is governed by a revised corporate philosophy, a desire to move away from the internal combustion engine era. The company intends to focus on a carbon-neutral future by 2050. Honda’s decision has caught Red Bull off guard. Perhaps mild public criticisms by Red Bull may have played a large factor in Honda’s desire to end the partnership.
At the Russian Grand Prix weekend, Christian Horner informed Max Verstappen over the radio that he was slowest in the straights. In Red Bull speak this means the chassis isn’t the problem, it’s the engine. Honda obviously heard and understood the radio message very clearly. Honda, like many Japanese corporations, has a workplace culture that is based on honor and respect.
Honda may well have taken this Red Bull radio message as lacking in all honor and deeply insulting. The criticisms from Red Bull were mild but had been slowly gathering pace over a number of weeks. When Red Bull became dissatisfied with the Renault engine they ruthlessly did the public shaming. The team’s criticisms of Honda were, admittedly, more measured.
Honda can take criticisms but prefers it is done behind closed doors. This isn’t about the thermal efficiency of modern combustion-powered engines. It’s isn’t necessarily about carbon neutrality otherwise Honda would also announce it is pulling out of the Indy Car championship. This is simply Red Bull treating their engine partners with contempt, it is a Red Bull own goal.