Honda officially left F1 at the end of the 2021 season, following Max Verstappen’s world championship title at the wheel of a Red Bull-Honda. The Japanese manufacturer has revealed that it is monitoring Formula 1, while its engines still power the RB18s, under the Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) badge.
Koji Watanabe, president of the HRC, was present at the Austrian Grand Prix to talk about a potential return of Honda to the discipline. The first idea, as we informed you this weekend, is to put the Honda logos back on Red Bull and AlphaTauri until 2025, instead of the HRC, which makes the V6 turbo hybrids.
But the Japanese acknowledge that a return to discipline is not ruled out, especially if the basis of the engines used for the next regulation is still an electrified V6, which seems to be the trajectory that F1 wants to make.
“Formula 1 is the main category of motor sports, so we are always watching what happens in the world of F1” says Watanabe. “Of course, we just finished and concluded our activities, so nothing has been said in the company about the 2026 season.”
“We have no plans, but we are not closing the door. From what I understand, F1 is in discussions to decide the regulations for 2026, and the direction is definitely carbon neutral.”
“It’s the same direction as us. So we shouldn’t deviate from carbon neutrality through F1. It’s probably also a good opportunity to study F1’s carbon neutrality. So this n isn’t a closed door “.
A decision “in 12 to 18 months” for Honda
Honda has not yet decided and, unlike Porsche and Audi, it seems that it is simply waiting to see if future regulations suit it, rather than participating in its development. Watanabe explains that Honda may have a year and a half to decide.
“I think there are several factors we need to watch out for. But once we have decided to conclude F1 because of mass production and carbon neutrality, we must first focus on that side.”
“Then once we realize we can get it, we can look at F1. I don’t know the exact timetable. But if we want to get back to F1 in 2026, we’ll probably have to make a decision in 12 and 18 months.”
Honda’s return to Red Bull and AlphaTauri?
Honda confirms that work between Red Bull and Sakura, the factory where F1 engines are manufactured, will continue until the end of current regulations. Therefore, the construction and development of the Red Bull Powertrains plant in Milton Keynes is clearly geared towards 2026.
“At least until 2025, Honda will be a kind of partner for both teams. And while the details are yet to be decided, HRC will also become a kind of technical partner for both teams until 2025.”
This is the reason why Honda would like to return its brand to the cars of both teams: “We have to decide for next season, but I personally want to use more Honda, or the combination of Honda and HRC.”
And Watanabe reaffirms that Red Bull can operate the Honda engine, but that its design does not belong to the team: “They can use the IP, but we didn’t sell them the IP. It’s just a lease, so a license to use the IP.”