Having left Formula 1 despite Red Bull driver Max Verstappen winning the Drivers’ World Championships on an engine provided by them, Honda motorsport boss Masashi Yamamoto believes the Japanese manufacturer will return to F1 at some point in the future.
Honda left F1 at the end of 2021, after a seven-year stay in the sport that culminated in a drivers’ world championship win with Verstappen.
The Japanese manufacturer, who worked with McLaren and then AlphaTauri and Red Bull in what was its fourth stint in F1, decided to leave to focus on achieving the wider company’s goal of carbon neutrality.
Red Bull and AlphaTauri will continue to use a PU developed by Honda in 2022, with many of the Japanese manufacturer’s F1 staff staying involved in the project known as Red Bull Powertrains — but Honda has now officially left, says a report on Formula 1 website.
And while Honda has not officially commented on the chances of an F1 return in the future, Yamamoto thinks they will be back for a fifth attempt.
“Personally I hope and expect Honda will come back to Formula 1,” he told F1.com “It depends on young people in Honda being passionate about motorsport and if they can convince senior management to come back. But history repeats, so I hope it can happen,” Yamamoto was quoted as saying in the report.
Honda, who won six constructors’ and five drivers’ championships with Williams and McLaren as an engine supplier in the 1980s and 1990s, have come a long way since making a difficult return with McLaren in 2015.
They didn’t get a podium until their fifth year, with Verstappen taking third in the first race of the Red Bull and Honda partnership, but then went on to secure 17 wins (16 with Red Bull, one with AlphaTauri) in three seasons, ending with Verstappen’s world title win, the report said.
They went from F1’s most unreliable and slowest engine to a genuine challenger, on pure performance, to the class-leading Mercedes in seven years, with Yamamoto saying they were “almost equal to Mercedes” in the pecking order in the closing stages of their time in F1.