Honda will remain in Formula 1 at least until the end of the 2021 season after signing a contract extension with both Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso.
The initial contracts with both outfits was set to end at the end of 2020, but with the recent announcement of the regulations for Formula 1 from 2021 onwards, Honda have opted to remain, at least for one further season.
Costs have been the main issue with Honda’s future in the sport, with the engine manufacturer looking at reducing its spending whilst also looking to see positive results at the front of the field.
Max Verstappen has taken the Honda power unit to three victories in 2019 with Red Bull, the first wins for the Japanese manufacturer since its return to the sport, while the Dutchman has also secured two pole positions. Verstappen’s win in the Austrian Grand Prix was Honda’s first victory since the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Toro Rosso has also tasted the champagne this season, with Daniil Kvyat finishing third in Germany and Pierre Gasly second in Brazil, with the Faenza-based team still in with a shot of fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship heading into this weekend’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Speaking during the successful Brazilian Grand Prix weekend for Honda, where Verstappen and Gasly finished first and second respectively, Honda’s F1 managing director Masashi Yamamoto, said it was important for the costs to reduce in order to remain in the sport.
“It’s positive to have good results,” said Yamamoto to Motorsport.com. “But more important thing is a balance with the cost.
“We have to put lots of budget to accelerate our development to catch up the top runners. And now we are planning how to maintain current condition and reducing the cost at the same time.”
Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has welcomed the news, but whilst Honda remaining in Formula 1 in 2021 is good news, its long term future in the sport remains uncertain.