Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2019

Why Honda’s doubtful commitment to F1 should concern Red Bull – and Verstappen

2021 F1 season

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As important communications go, Red Bull Racing’s announcement that Honda would continue supplying the energy drink’s Formula 1 team in 2021 last week sure was low-key. It appeared as a single, two-line tweet: “We’ll be powered by Honda in 2021! The team are delighted to confirm that we have extended our partnership to use Honda hybrid power.”

Sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso’s tweet was even briefer, and slightly fuzzier to boot: “It’s great to confirm that Honda Racing F1 will continue to supply the team into the new era of Formula 1.”

No media release was distributed, not a solitary word said about post-2021. One senior F1 figure described the overall strategy as ‘bizarre’, the F1 world left to assume that the extension is either for a single year only (Red Bull) or open-ended (Toro Rosso) – or even that Honda will cease supplying the former post-2021, yet continue with Toro Rosso. Talk about communication sowing confusion or creating assumptions…

So, what really gives? For starters, such a ‘will they, won’t they’ approach is consistent with Honda’s previous attitude towards Formula 1. Over the years the company has made more exits from F1 – whether as full team, engine supplier or both – than any other automotive brand, yet professes to ‘love racing’.

Honda’s current campaign could be considered its fifth, sixth or even seventh F1 engagement since 1964 depending how you interpret the different banners under which they were conducted: Honda, Mugen, Mugen-Honda, Aguri. Alfa Romeo, Ford and Renault come nowhere close in the revolving door stakes.

Clearly, when the thorny topic of F1 was addressed in a main board meeting held after the Brazilian Grand Prix – which saw a superb drive to victory from pole position by Max Verstappen in a Red Bull powered by the ‘Big H’ – there must have been something less than total agreement, hence this half-hearted compromise and subsequent limp announcements, which were made by the teams and not the company itself.

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The executive decision is said by a source to have been driven by “uncertainty surrounding the motor industry” and the costs involved. Yet nothing epitomises uncertainty better than lack of commitment – precisely the missing ingredient in the mix – despite F1’s enormous efforts lengths to reduce costs from 2021 onwards, including restrictions on engine dynamometer runs and compulsory use of various standard parts.

Toyoharu Tanabe, Masashi Yamamoto, Interlagos, 2019
It’s been a better year for Honda chiefs Toyoharu Tanabe and Masashi Yamamoto
During his media address at the recent Tokyo Motor Show, Honda president and CEO Takahiro Hachigo referred to ‘sport’ only as part of the word ‘transport’. He spoke glowingly about the “joy of mobility” and “people’s life’s potential” under the umbrella theme of ‘Honda e:Technology’ and the associated buzz term – e:HEV. Yet, Honda’s board had surely been aware of all implications of signing off on an F1 campaign, having regularly played the ‘cost’ and ‘uncertainty’ cards during previous exits, including its previous departure at the end of 2008.

Frankly, such excuses have worn rather thin, for Honda has only itself to blame on the costs front. It competes off the least cost-effective of all F1 business models: As an engine supplier only, it has no voice on regulatory bodies and receives no slice of F1’s billion-buck annual revenues – a situation which will continue through to 2025 if the proposed revenue and governance structures are approved during the coming months as expected.

[icon2019autocoursempu]Honda steadfastly refuses to supply more than two teams – having previously indicated that it would exit F1 if called upon to do so – which receive engine on a ‘works’ basis. Therefore Honda has no customer income as Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari do, yet is forced to defray costs over just two (non-paying) teams.

Where does Honda’s lack of commitment (potentially) leave its partner teams? After all, the outlook for the global motor industry is unlikely to change markedly over the next 12 months, during which time Honda’s main board will need to revisit the topic of F1, while demands for electrification are unlikely to subside.

For one, as things stand right now, there are no prospective incoming engine suppliers on the horizon. Even if one were to magically emerge today, it is unlikely to be up and running competitively by the end of 2021. For another, Ferrari and Mercedes are unlikely to voluntarily supply their largest competitor, while the latter already has a full roster of customers.

That leaves… Renault. The noise in the background is peals of laughter from team boss Cyril Abiteboul, whose company (and brand) suffered numerous jibes during its time as Red Bull’s supplier. Besides which, there are no guarantees Renault will remain in F1 either for it, too, is feeling the ‘uncertainty’ in the motor industry, apart from suffering a raft of internal issues.

Christian Horner, Cyril Abiteboul, Paul Ricard, 2018
A Red Bull-Renault remarriage is hard to imagine
True, in terms of F1’s regulations the FIA could impose an engine supply deal on an existing supplier, but shotgun marriages seldom pan out long-term. And, by the nature of the holding company’s culture, Red Bull’s F1 entities have never done humility terribly well…

Star driver Max Verstappen, much in demand and whose contract expires at the end of 2020, must surely be contemplating whether to commit longer term to a team whose engine supplier cannot think more than 12 months ahead. That will make him more likely to switch camps. Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton are both out of contract at the end of next year and the speculation over their future is already building. Verstappen clearly has options.

Honda’s dithering approach combines the worst of all worlds while offering little long-term comfort to its partners and drivers, who need to commit to the 2021 F1 season by March 1st next year as per current contractual discussions between teams and Formula 1.

Therefore, we should not be surprised if Honda’s lack of commitment ultimately prefaces an exit for both Red Bull teams.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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64 comments on “Why Honda’s doubtful commitment to F1 should concern Red Bull – and Verstappen”

  1. First, insightful article @dieterrencken, great to read. I hadn’t even seen the STR and RBR confirmation and had wondered we didn’t see anything from Honda after their meeting was mentioned at several points during the coverage of the Brazil GP, both here, and on the Ziggo Sport channel which was my main way of viewing the weekend, but sort of assumed it meant they at least didn’t stop their involvement yet! I can see where they are coming from, but have to agree with what you write that Red Bull can’t be happy with this not-so-hearty endorsement. Indeed, since they are already are seen as a competitor, no sight of a Brawn miracle last minute, but still working surprisingly well, engine transplant from Mercedes or Ferrari, especially if they would manage to bring a monster out of the winter garages.

    I normally wouldn’t mention it, but I have to admit, I already read this article this morning, in Dutch :-/ in this case, I hadn’t seen this article on here, and thought the Dutch title sounded original and interesting – should have known it couldn’t be from that site but from here!

    I keep telling the google stuff on my phone that wants to recommend Dutch copycat sites with Dutch version of articles about Max Verstappen or other F1 things that I have usually already read from the source, often from here, but then translated into Dutch, but it keeps cropping up, for days after the GP (and when I tell it I don’t want the one, there’s seemingly always another, sigh). I suppose it’s time to tell google I don’t want it’s suggested F1 stuff, since I don’t need them to recommend!

    1. Well, I at least sent Google a feedback that the site took your article, translated it and put it up w/o attribution, and asking told them to stop showing the site and similar ones.

    2. @bosyber – you should probably email Keith with the name of that site and the URL of the article, so he can take action if he so chooses, as the aggrieved party. Google’s aggregator relationship with news sites is complex, and it is unlikely they will take any punitive measures for plagiarism.

      1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
        3rd December 2019, 9:39

        +1 Agree with Phylyp.

      2. Thanks @phylyp, news rip off is a scourge (barely better than fake news as morals go)

    3. GPToday had it, but they also have Rencken on the payroll. So not a copycat. ;)

  2. Exciting times ahead, but hopefully, Honda would remain in F1 longer-term. Losing it would be a great shame, especially after the better success of the past season.

  3. Perhaps F1 will need to revisit the idea of an independent engine supplier that Horner was talking about before the Honda deal. Though this is starting to feel like a slow extinction for F1 in its current form

    1. But how does it get paid for? F1 tried the whole independent thing in 2010 with Cosworth and it was a disaster.

  4. If so, pathetic. Honda have worked hard to recover from the often unfair drubbing they got from their partnership with McLaren, just a bad relationship, and Red Bull are clearly ideal partners. Even so, no commitment? With such a talented design team and mega star in the making with Verstappen? Ludicrous.

    1. @david-br From the point of view of F1, yes. From the point of view of a multi-national car company? Nah…

      Honda are a honourable company and they received a massive drubbing at the hands of McLaren during their recent tenure, but despite them getting a grip on the engine design, all the plaudits for this years success are being thrown at Max and the Red Bull chassis – unless their engine gets top-billing for the success, why continue to throw money at anonymity?

      1. @optimaximal But I just don’t think that’s true, Honda were praised consistently this year I think. Also it’s one year only of a real return to success. They could be on the cusp of greatness with Red Bull and Verstappen, never guaranteed but it’s possible, so why give the impression of cold feet at this moment?

        1. @david-br Honda were praised in the context of ‘yay, they’ve made an engine that doesn’t break down every other session’ but most of the articles of their success was suffixed with comments like ‘…now lets hope they can do it for a whole campaign next year!’ or ‘…they’re now definitely the third-best engine on the grid!’.

          It’s great that they’re improving from a sporting and technology point of view (and F1’s idiosyncrasies skew it further), but at a business level, it looks dreadful that it’s taken them 4 years, obscene R&D spends and several management team reshuffles to get to this stage.

      2. @optimaximal Exactly, just like back in 2008. After Brawn dominated the first half of 2009, people including me questioned why Honda left after 2008 in the first place. But if you look back about the economical situation back in 2008, with hundreds of people losing their jobs at Honda, it’s very understandable they couldn’t afford (or explain) putting so much money in their F1-project. Honda is a car manufacturer in the first place and an engine supplier second. If their investments in F1 harm their car manufacturing, they should quit F1.

      3. (@optimaximal)
        This part really is nonsense:

        all the plaudits for this years success are being thrown at Max and the Red Bull chassis

        Honda gets a lot of praise by Red Bull and certainly by max.

    2. Maybe they don’t get enough exposure! The title sponsor of Red Bull Racing is Aston Marting. Even on the official Red Bull Racing website there’s a big Aston logo and several smaller ones (Hewlett Packard, Siemens, Citrix, … Honda). For showruns and other marketing stunts Aston Martin is the official car! You don’t see an NSX or a Type-R. Long story short, there are hardcore fans and there are -let’s call them- light consumers. How many people are aware of Honda’s involvement in F1? How many people know they scored three victories this year with Red Bull? Maybe not enough.

      I hope they stay. But maybe they need a bit more time in the limelight, a bit more visibility.

  5. I would very much hope that Honda don’t pull the plug and in doing so lead to Red Bull/Toro Rosso leaving the sport too. I already had supported BAR into its transition to Honda F1 and watched my favourite team and engine combo leave once, I’d rather not have to do it again.

    But it’s true if Honda do leave Red Bull have nowhere to go. Then again, the article focuses entirely on the vagueness of Red Bull & Honda’s announcement – it could be just vague, and the open-ended style of their arrangement may be on Red Bull’s terms too to give them engine flexibility should this not work out – as Marko said once if the Honda project fails then Red Bull will leave. There’s a lot of variables but F1 would be greatly diminished if it loses Honda, and catastrophically damaged if it loses Red Bull.

    1. Then again, the article focuses entirely on the vagueness of Red Bull & Honda’s announcement – it could be just vague

      @rocketpanda – I’m with you, it feels like that’s too much weightage being given to the brevity of the two tweets. Like you say, it might not be only Honda unwilling to commit long-term, it could well be RB keeping their (exit) options open.

      1. its a bit building an article on interpretation of a tweet and claiming the tweet is resonsible.
        Can you imagine the articles Dieter can create reacting on Donald T

    2. Agreed that Dieter’s reasoning is mainly based on just these 2 tweets. Having said that, I’m with Dieter on the fact that it hardly gives the impression of long term engagement ; seems quite minimal. Manufactors mainly go in F1 for publicity / PR reason, so such a low key communication is quite suspicious… IMHO, it’s either they didn’t take any long term decision and just buy a bit more time (after all end 2021 is in 2 years) or they already have a mind of quitting, but don’t want to communicate on that now.

  6. McLaren running Mercedes and RBR running Renault… 2022 – back to the future =)

    1. I guess the chances of Renault leaving F1 after 2021 are greater then Honda.

  7. Therefore, we should not be surprised if Honda’s lack of commitment ultimately prefaces an exit for both Red Bull teams.

    The worst possible outcome for F1, reducing the field to eight teams and 16 cars, and a loss of one of only three teams currently able to compete at the front.

  8. If Honda would indeed leave after 2021, the likelihood would be technology transfer… The entire PU, design and whatever patents it have will be labeled as Aston Martin engines funded my Redbull. There is no way Mercedes or Ferrrari will supply them or will they go back to Renault if Renault is still in F1 in 2022. No big manufacturer is planning on entering F1 and a company like Cosworth will nnot be able to produce a competitive engine with limited budget and time they have.

    So the best solution is really for Honda to transfer that PU to Redbull and Aston Martin.

  9. As I said before Merc, Renault and Honda are all weighing up their options for the next decade or so. Governments around the world are legislating to force zero emission vehicles.
    The big manufacturers power F1…always have. They keep it as the top Motor Sport because it suits their marketing and R&D requirements.
    The moment they decide or are forced to change their focus on what they sell will determine the future of F1 as we know it.
    Ferrari and MacLaren are the only ‘pure’ racing teams, that is they build road cars to help fund their racing. Sales of electric cars are slowing, their overall % of sales have not set the automotive world on fire. So maybe alternate fuels will be the answer.
    Governments are legislating for zero emissions, how it is achieved is up to the manufacturers.

    1. @johnrkh, sales are slowing because the makers can’t build them fast enough to satisfy demand. Most car-buyers are not prepared to wait a year or two for their new daily-driver.

      1. @hohum There is an argument maybe that Tesla was in that situation, if we forget the terrible initial build quality and fires that undoubtedly hit sales. But the big car manufacturers have all seen sales of electric vehicles slow.
        Car sales in general are in the doldrums with the only promising figures coming from US style ‘pickups’ and SUVs. I would argue that people who purchase such vehicles are not the people who watch F1.

        1. @johnrkh, I don’t know which market you are in ( I’m in Australia where Tesla seems to be the only EV being sold ), but I hear H’ndi/Kia models are all backlogged and VW and MB are talking up their EVs but don’t seem to have any in showrooms ready to drive away. It’s not surprising people are delaying buying a new car until EV price and availability improve, or, petrol wins the battle for the future.

          1. @hohum I’m in Aus as well. I think with us it’s the “Range anxiety” thing. I don’t think that is a reasonable excuse for most people myself though.
            I think petrol is on the way out simply because of the legislation coming into effect across Europe in the next decade or so. In the US even though the government has not mandated EVs the likes of Ford and GM are moving ahead with their own plans to introduce a complete range of EVs.
            Ford and VW have just announced a multi billion $ co-op on an EV. GM and Toyota have invested huge sums in autonomous vehicle programs that they are betting will be the dominant form of personal transport in the future.
            Merc, BMW, Renault, Fiat, Honda the chinese manufacturers are all on board with either EVs Hydrogen or Hydrogen EV combos. Not looking good for traditional ICE powered Motor Racing.
            But back to F1, there is a glimmer of hope with the ongoing research of 3rd gen Bio fuels to keep the ICE alive and therefore F1, I am keeping my fingers crossed.

  10. José Lopes da Silva
    3rd December 2019, 12:35

    We can’t talk about unsustainability of the business model for a whole decade and not to expect to see some consequences eventually.

    Having Lance Stroll and Nicolas Latifi among the 18 best drivers of the world is peanuts.

  11. If my information is correct and all these driver contracts end after next season, then we could be in for the most ridiculous and exciting silly season ever!

    Lewis Hamilton (2 year extension in 2018)
    Sebastian Vettel (3 year extension in 2017)
    Max Verstappen (3 year extension in 2017)
    Carlos Sainz Jr. (multi-year contract in 2018)
    Daniel Ricciardo (2 year contract in 2018)
    Kevin Magnussen (2 year extension in 2018)
    Kimi Raikkonen (2 year contract in 2018)
    George Russell (multi-year contract in 2018)

    Holy moly!

    1. isaac (@invincibleisaac)
      3rd December 2019, 14:02

      @shimks – That does sound amazing! So who do you think will go where? I can imagine HAM staying with Mercedes, but would BOT be replaced by RUS? And what about Ferrari – LEC would probably stay and VET possibly retire? Then who would win Ferrari – VER? But then what about Red Bull??? So many possibilities, it all sounds very exciting indeed.

    2. I guess they’re all waiting for Kevin to show his hand ;)

    3. Firstly, I feel drivers are waiting to see which teams are looking likely to be competitive under the 2021 rules, don’t want to get stuck with a turkey. It’s entirely possible an outsider team turns up with a creative winning concept. Secondly, the trouble with Honda supplying red bull is that red bull seem to be focusing on the drivers championship, which may have less prestige that the manufacturers championship.

  12. Dragging McLaren wasn’t enough

  13. It should not concern Verstappen, he is young and above all else fast.

    He is no Nico Hulkenberg.

    Sooner or later he will replace either Vettel or Hamilton and Ferrari or Mercedes.

    If RedBull get their act together he can get a championships in 2021. Then Honda will stay on for sure. But without championship success, who knows. Honda are not here to be third.

  14. I can think of several reasons not to be worried about a potential near-future exit by Honda.

    In no particular order, firstly, we have very little to go by and of course the discussions RBR and Honda will have had already behind closed doors, and will continue to have, would be massive orders of magnitude more than they would feel the need to reveal to the public at this time.

    Secondly, if it is about costs they could always charge RBR for their engines and RBR would likely happily pay, or at least contribute enough to allay those concerns if indeed Honda has some. They’re getting massive marketing value at the same time.

    Thirdly, they’ve only just begun what appears to be an ascension to the top. Leaving in a couple of years when they’ll have really only just begun to be seriously competitive makes little sense. They have Max and Newey and are about to embark on game changing revolutionary rules changes. RBR/Honda/Newey/Max have just as much potential as anyone with this clean slate that is coming, to nail their package. Honda leaving after one year of the new chapter makes no sense.

    Fourthly, manufacturers are talking about going ‘electrification’ and that is indeed what F1 is…electrification through hybrid technology, and that is going to be around for quite a while yet while full electric remains in much need of advancement for most peoples practical use.

    Fifthly, while Honda has left F1 before, have they ever left anyone in the lurch? Honda (and RBR and F1 itself) would be well aware of the consequences to themselves and to F1 if Honda were to suddenly leave without giving RBR plenty of notice. Not saying I know what RBR would do for an engine, but it has to already be on their minds in terms of potential discussions and planning with other entities if the need arises, if indeed Honda for whatever reason has been vague with them, which I highly doubt.

    Bottom line for me…I’m confident Honda is not going anywhere soon.

    1. I can agree with much of what you say. However:

      while full electric remains in much need of advancement for most peoples practical use

      As long as a person has off-street parking and isn’t doing several hundred miles per day every day, I think most people would be well served technically by an EV.

      The normal commute is about 20 miles, well within range of all pure electric cars, and with off-street parking (or a kerbside charging solution as are becoming available) their vehicle will be ready every morning. For longer distances, many will go 150 miles or more between charges, even 300+ miles for the better ones, and recharge in the time you should be taking as a break on longer journeys.

      I think the areas they are let down at the moment include high price, limited second hand models available, and the impressions people have of them. Many still believe they will run out of power with nowhere to charge, see them as milk floats, are worried about battery pack life and so on, when these worries are often unfounded. For instance, a Tesla Model S has reached 1 million km, mostly on the same battery pack (changed early on due to defects which afflicted the early Teslas). There are charging points nearby in most urban and suburban locations, as well as the vast majority of motorway service stations.

      So, no, I don’t believe that EVs need advancement for most people’s practical use, although I believe that is the impression most have. I do believe that they are still too expensive for most people, and that the limited second hand market is mostly filled with vastly inferior older models which did have issues. Give it 5 years or so, when the current crop of EVs is available for reasonable prices second hand and I doubt many will still be driving ICE cars if they have a choice.

      1. @drmouse Fair comment. Part of my current consideration when it comes to EVs is that here in Canada we have a small population in a huge country and so on average we have to drive far to get anywhere. We have built our communities with the car in mind and so many of us need our cars to get around. Range is a big issue for many. And unfortunately, possibly Tesla aside, from what I understand the advertised range of most EVs is under perfect lab conditions and once one drives these cars in reality, usually needing either heating or air conditioning, the range becomes disappointing. I fully take your point about better second hand EVs becoming more and more available as time goes along.

        This to say though when I hear of entities like Honda going ‘electrification’ by 2030, I do not believe for one second this to mean their whole fleet will be EVs by then. But some full electric and the rest hybrid? Yeah I can believe that.

        So in that sense I see no rush for any manufacturer to get out of F1 just because there is a building need for EVs( still a very small percentage) and they are heading towards full electrification. That to me only means R&D will continue to produce better and better hybrids (ala F1) and better and better EVs as well. The hybrid solution to me is only going to improve and with their onboard charging ability the practicality of the ICE/electric motor combo will continue to dominate while sipping less and less fuel, and hopefully even synthetic fuel, for quite some time yet, imho.

        1. @Robbie, surely many Canadian communities were established before the motorcar? You’ll be fine without the car, you were before, you will be again. 😎

      2. @Drmouse All you did was make several long excuses for all the shortcomings of the electric car.

        IF you have off street parking, IF you dont drive far (in the U.S. we do), IF you can actually plot a long distance route (no there are not chargers everwhere like gas stations), IF you dont mind waiting hours every 200 miles to recharge on a long distance trip (i like how you used the word “should” when referring to taking a break to justify the waiting period), which means its a joke to do any serious distance in an electric car. IF your battery pack doesnt degrade over time or in cold conditions (they do). IMO they are soulless as well, and no the video games in the Model S dont qualify as soul (sorry Elon).

        Maybe the electric “car” is kinda ready, but the infrastructure and charging speed certainly doesn’t match the needs or convenience of the current system. If you think the only reason people don’t buy is because some electric cars are expensive, then how would you explain MB sales numbers these last few years?

        1. OK, I was talking about the UK, not the US or Canada. Over here, the vast majority would be served by an EV (even without off-street parking).

          IF you dont mind waiting hours every 200 miles to recharge on a long distance trip

          20 mins for 20% to 80% on a fast charger. That’s not hours.

          i like how you used the word “should” when referring to taking a break to justify the waiting period

          Yes, I used the word “should” because you should for safety reasons. I know some don’t, but I have little sympathy for those who drive unsafely to shave a little off their trip time.

          its a joke to do any serious distance in an electric car

          I’ve read numerous articles, mostly by those who own Teslas, where a long distance trip is shown to be completely doable, even in the US. They will obviously not suit everyone, just as a large pickup or SUV may not suit everyone, and a small city car may not suit everyone.

          IF your battery pack doesnt degrade over time or in cold conditions (they do)

          It did have battery pack replacements early on but:

          the most recent battery pack is going on almost half a million kilometers (310,000 miles) with very little battery degradation

          Show me a petrol car which has done 300,000 miles which still gets the same fuel consumption, therefore range on a tank, as it did new. In fact, show me a petrol car which has made it to a million km (most I know of are considered on their way out at 100,000 and few make it to 200,000)…

          IMO they are soulless as well

          You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, although I disagree. We would probably disagree in general about which cars we like and dislike and many other things.

          I am not saying EVs are for everyone. There will be people for whom EVs are not suitable. Granted, I am thinking about the UK (as that’s where I live and have always lived, and this site has always seemed UK dominated so I assumed that’s where we were talking about), but I was taking exception to the use of the word most. In the UK, at least, I believe that the current crop of EVs are suitable for most people now, price aside, and when they hit the second hand market in volume the price argument will drop off.

          As for other countries, I can’t be certain. However, reading stories from EV owners in the US, for example, many seem happy with them even for long distance journeys.

          YMMV and, as I said, you are entitled to your opinion.

          1. @drmouse Just a bit more info here from Canada. Also wanted to mention I am not anti-EV, I just think they are further away than some think, in terms of being a bigger percentage of sales and/or of being better replacements for the current ICE or ICE/hybrid vehicles.

            Here in Canada EV sales are less than 3% of all cars sold in a year. That number is climbing, but is still quite small. Price and range are the two biggest factors of resistance. Interestingly, here in Ontario when the provincial government dropped their rebate program, sales dropped dramatically. British Columbia and Quebec still have programs and that is where sales are the highest, but those provinces also have a policy that their car dealerships sell a certain quota of cars or be fined. Those provinces have sales of 10% and 7% respectively of EV or plug-in hybrids. The Federal government also has a rebate program but it is much less than the two provinces who offer one provide. Also interestingly, 33% of the EV sales are for Tesla.

            Personally I could not possibly own an EV and do all that I need to do in life. I need my truck and my car (Honda Accord lol) that has 415,000 km on it and climbing. It still takes me 800km at a stretch and in 5 minutes at a gas station I can go another 800km just like that, even using heating or air conditioning which can greatly tax an EV car. That’s just my reality and the reality of many as per the low percentage of EV sales, for now, and I think you have a valid point though that momentum is in play. But as I said before, I think that masses of pure EVs are a ways away yet, so I think hybrids such as F1 use are going to be around for quite a while yet, which is also why I don’t buy the rhetoric that manufacturers needn’t continue researching ICE technology, or that no new manufacturer would go near F1 because they use ICEs. I think in reality, and imho, in terms of domestic car sales EVs will continue to become better and be a growing percentage of sales, but for many many people ICE cars (read hybrids) are the closest they’ll ever get to electric vehicles unless their hand is completely forced, and dealerships will continue to offer options between EV, plug-in hybrids, and ICE hybrids, with eventually few if any strictly ICE cars and trucks.

            I don’t place too much faith in the happy stories from EV owners since they were obviously wanting one or were motivated by their ecological beliefs or what have you, and they likely didn’t need the range that many do, which is why they were able to buy one to begin with. I would think no small percentage of buyers would defend their choice, but I have certainly heard stories of the ‘lesser’ EVs that aren’t Tesla getting disappointingly well below the advertised range once real life driving was taken into account (stops and starts and use of heating and air conditioning), as opposed to optimum lab findings.

          2. @robbie Fair enough. As I said, I hadn’t really considered other countries, so thank you for the insight.

    2. @robbie, since you ask about whether Honda has “left anybody in the lurch” when they left in the past, they have actually done that several times.

      In 1987, many felt that the way that Honda withdrew their support for Williams was intentionally designed to punish Williams for refusing to make Piquet the No.1 driver at Williams, with Nakajima as a No.2 to driver to Piquet, by making a relatively late decision to pull out when they still had a year to go on their contract with Williams.

      The way that Brawn and others also talked about the way that Honda pulled out of F1 in 2009 doesn’t paint Honda in a positive light either – no warning until Brawn was told “we’re shutting the team down”, and an attitude from Honda that they didn’t care about anybody in the team and just wanted to walk away from the team as fast as possible (seemingly preferring to just shut it down first and, only after the senior management talked to them, then shifting to the idea of putting the team up for sale).

      On a second note, Honda have actually talked about wanting to use electrification in some of their markets much sooner than 2030. In March this year, they indicated they would switch the whole of their European division to electrified cars by 2025 – however, by October this year, they then brought that plan forwards three years and now intend 100% of their European cars to be electrified by 2022, and they’ve hinted they are looking to bring forward their plans for other markets as well (I think that their plans for the Chinese market have also been brought forwards by a year, from 2021 to 2020).

      1. @anon Great stuff. Can’t say I knew any details pertaining to Honda’s previous exits. Suffice it to say each circumstance is different and in terms of ‘strife’ shall we say, I certainly can’t see any within F1 or Honda or RBR that would cause a sudden exit by them, but of course that doesn’t speak for the powers at Honda who are above the F1 program who can make the ultimate decisions for the company as a global whole. I would like to think that this time around a sudden exit by Honda would be quite catastrophic for RBR and for F1 itself, given the uniqueness of the pu’s and the minimal number of makers. I would like to think Honda would not make a sudden exit given the current lay of the land, and rather would give ample notice if indeed they decided to back out just when things are looking up for them and their marriage with RBR. 1987 and 2009 (global recession) were years when Honda exitting, even if sudden, was not leaving anyone without options, and in this current era Honda would know how damaging unfair treatment would be.

        As to Honda and electrification, yes I have no doubt they are headed that way as they say, but my main takeaway from this, unless I am mistaken, is that ‘electrification’ does not mean full EV, fleet wide. To me it must mean both EV and hybrid, which is also electrification, as there is nothing to support that Honda would survive by going full electric by 2030 or sooner. There simply isn’t the market and they would fail miserably if the only Honda’s you will be able to by within a decade or less is an EV. Hybrid on the other hand, just as they are playing with in F1, is night and day different, and I’m sure can keep them being the strong company they are as time goes along and until EVs can legitimately take over.

  15. Can somebody tell me when Mercedes confirmed their commitment for 2021, for how many years, and how many twitter characters?

    1. They did not. Leaving f1 is still a viable option for merc. Nothing to gain anymore.
      So Renault is weighing its options, Honda is reluctant to guarantee a long stay and Ferrari always threatening to leave..
      The end of f1 as we know it is approaching.

      1. They could all leave, erikje, but Williams will always stay, and fully committed to get the best talent into F1 ;)

        1. fully committed to get the best (paying) talent into F1

          FTFY ;-)

  16. An Engine freeze is an option. Even allowing Honda slightly more fuel flow or fuel weight is also an option with the Engine freeze. They simply just have to build and test the engine than outright develop it.

  17. You have to look at this in the context of the large manufacturers now investing massively in becoming “mobility” companies, and no longer focused on individuals in privately owned cars per se. Motorsport doesn’t really help with that. and if it did, you have to look at VWAG eschewing IC motorsports now altogether. The F1 world is still reminiscing about V10s but the future is already here it doesn’t look like that. That is, it makes sense that Honda would be hedging on F1 now.

  18. The current F1 engine is one the most fuel efficient engines around. I’m not sure why Honda aren’t wanting to at least explore putting that technology to a more commercial use, but there must be people around who desperately want that sort of capability and are prepared to pay for it.

    1. @drycrust Whose to say they aren’t?

  19. Hopefully it ends bad for red bull, I’m tired of an energy drink winning races and beating a team like Ferrari

    1. Oh look, another poorly informed outburst from @carlosmedrano

      1. Carlos Medrano strikes again

  20. I would say that Red Bull is probably trying to play it “clever” again. The way they always try to bully there suppliers, they would only sign for a short contract. So then if Honda isn’t the best engine for 2012, they can change to another manufacturer.

    Of course that’s theoretically assuming any other manufacturer wants to supply them. With all the burned bridges, it’s hard to see that happen. While it also leaves Honda an out if their season disappoints again or for whatever reason Honda has had enough.

    Just like when Lauda went with a Mercedes power train deal to Mateschitz. It was handed to them on a platter! With the premise that there needs to be no bad blood and Mercedes needs to feel good about the deal. First thing Mateschitz does is to go over to Ferrari to try and score a “better”deal there. Ferrari declines and then Mercedes knows there is only bad blood there and nothing to gain so they rescind their offer.

    1. Lol more speculative baseless utter nonsense.

  21. It would be weird to work so hard to get through that difficult period only to leave.

  22. I’d be shocked if they stay. Why keep pouring money into the sport if you’re not winning — and even if you are, Newey or Verstappen will get most of the credit.

  23. Hate to say it, as a true petrol head… but I’m not surprised Honda are slow to commit.
    Electric cars are here. They are practical and almost affordable to the everyday person. They require less maintenance and are quiet and cheap to run. I think within 2 years the swing will be more pronounced and as Formula One engines become more restricted in terms of technological development… There is less reason for a manufacturer to invest in internal combustion technology. What are Honda to gain through Formula One as a buisness? Bugger all if you ask me. My next daily driver is a choice between my dream hot hatch (an a45) or an electric car with similar performance. On my commute to work, I see more electric Hyundai’s, Teslas and Nissan “Leaves?” than I thought was possible in Western Australia where long commutes are common. It’s over folks……almost. I don’t see anyone new joining the party.

  24. Supposedly Porsche has an F1 engine. Maybe RedBull needs to get on the horn RIGHT NOW and start talking with them.

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