Why Honda's departure from F1 doesn't compare to 2008

08-04-2021 08:32 | Updated: 08-04-2021 10:15
by GPblog.com
F1 News
Why Honda's departure from F1 doesn't compare to 2008

Honda is leaving Formula 1 at the end of 2021, and many are still wondering if Honda isn't making a mistake (again) here. However, according to Formula One journalist, Chris Medland, this may be the best way out of the sport.

Honda has invested a lot in the Formula 1 project in recent years, and just when Red Bull Racing seems to be getting competitive, the Japanese pull out the plug. The comparison with 2008 is immediately drawn, when Honda also pulled out and the same team became world champion in 2009. According to Medland, however, this comparison does not hold true.

Is Honda pulling out too early again?

''At the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix, questions are being asked about that decision. Specifically, whether Honda might come to regret the call to quit, and even consider reversing the decision." The logic behind those questions were two-fold. First, Honda has finally delivered a power unit that looks capable of winning the championship in Red Bull’s chassis. And second, Yuki Tsunoda is one of the most exciting rookies to enter F1 in recent years.

"I understand the questions to a certain degree, but they overlook exactly how Honda (and Tsunoda) got to where they are right now,'' says Medland in his column for RACER.

According to Medland the situation is more complicated than it seems. Where Honda stopped as a factory team in 2008 and BrawnGP won in 2009 with a Mercedes engine, the situation is already very different. Where Honda had won as a factory team with the plans that were in place and then decided to disappear straight away, Honda will now still have a share in the performance.

Perfect timing from Honda

Where Honda had disappeared altogether in 2009, it is still the Honda engine that Red Bull and AlphaTauri will be driving in the coming years. The same goes for the talent Tsunoda. He is no longer a Honda talent, but a Red Bull trainee. Honda has had a contribution to the possible success to come, and thus is taking a lesser risk than in 2008.

''Honda’s influence will still be felt beyond this season, with Red Bull running the same power unit technology next year – unlike the Brawn situation – and with Tsunoda likely to be in the sport for a number of years to come. As a fan of F1 who works in the sport and collaborates with Honda at times, I’ll always view that F1 as the place to be. But there are wider considerations companies have to think about, and if they are to end their involvement then giving it one final big crack is the way to go. Far from getting it wrong, winning on the way out would arguably be the perfect timing,'' Medland concludes.

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