The company’s fourth stint in Formula 1 will have lasted just seven years, after it re-entered the championship with McLaren. Honda has cited the cost of moving its road car manufacturing towards a carbon neutral future as the reason for leaving the sport.
After three years with McLaren in the 2015 to 2017 seasons in which the Honda engine proved uncompetitive and attracted much opprobrium, the manufacturer switch to Torro Rosso for 2018 with a stated goal of becoming a top three engine supplier. A much greater focus on development led to better reliability and power, prompting Red Bull Racing to switch to Honda for 2019.
The season opener in Australia saw a podium place for Verstappen, with wins following in Austria, Germany and Brazil. The latter race saw Pierre Gasly’s Torro Rosso outdrag Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes to the finish line for a Honda powered 1-2. In 2020 Honda delivered wins for Verstappen at Silverstone and for Pierre Gasly in Italy, in the renamed AlphaTauri car, as the only powerplant able to challenge the dominance of Mercedes.
Honda has said that mounting costs were a factor in the decision, with a need to focus on electric and fuel cell vehicle development to meet future mobility requirements that were carbon neutral.