Masashi Yamamoto, Honda, Nurburgring, 2020

Honda explains why it committed to IndyCar after announcing F1 exit

2020 Eifel Grand Prix

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Honda F1 managing director Masashi Yamamoto has explained why the company extended its commitment to IndyCar racing, despite the move seemingly being at odds with its reasons for leaving Formula 1.

Honda announced last week it will leave F1 after the 2021 season in order for the company to refocus on building battery and fuel cell electric vehicles to achieve net carbon neutrality by 2050.

A few days later, the US-based Honda Performance Development division which runs its IndyCar engine supply programme, affirmed the company’s long-term commitment to the seriesmaas. IndyCar does not yet use hybrid engines, but plans to introduce them in 2023.

Speaking in today’s FIA press conference at the Nurburgring, Yamamoto said “it was a difficult decision” for the company to leave F1. “We had to make the decision to work on future carbon neutral projects.”

The Formula 1 project was cut because of the need to move engineers to other projects, said Yamamoto.

“We also considered pursuing both Formula 1 and the work that we’re doing before the rapidly approaching requirement for carbon neutrality. In the end, the decision was taken to shift the top engineers for the work on future power units, et cetera. And unfortunately, we were unable to continue with Formula 1 as a result of that.”

Takuma Sato, RLL, Indycar, Indianapolis 500, 2020
Honda powered Takuma Sato to Indy 500 win in August
Yamamoto said HPD’s decision to continue its IndyCar project was a decision taken by it independently of Honda’s move to leave F1. “Our work on IndyCar is run by HPD, which is an independent part of Honda within America,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans.

Honda’s F1 project is run between two facilities in Sakura and Milton Keynes. Their Japan-based engineers are needed to be moved to the project for carbon neutrality from the F1 project, unlike those in the US.

“In this case, a lot of our R&D staff are based in Japan, which meant that for our future work, we had to allocate engineers who otherwise had been working in Japan,” Yamamoto confirmed.

Formula 1 has announced plans to become carbon neutral by 2030, well ahead of Honda’s planned target. Asked how that could be incompatible with Honda’s goals, Yamamoto said Honda and F1 are “both moving in the same direction.”

“However, given that Honda has customers all over the world for its automobile products, its motorbikes and general use products, there was the need for us to move our top engineers at an earlier stage to working on future carbon neutral projects.”

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Author information

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...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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11 comments on “Honda explains why it committed to IndyCar after announcing F1 exit”

  1. Fair enough and understandable.

  2. Well that’s not especially convincing is it. F1 oem’s are going to be starting a new engine concept in maybe 2022 for introduction in 2025/6, it’s bound to be leading edge on carbon emission, and meanwhile Honda are already committed to a new F1 engine for next year that especially needs more harvesting, not to mention new cylinder heads for renewable fuel efficiency.

    But never mind, they want to leave, it’s understandable given they chose the most unrewarding way to do F1. And F1 is very, very difficult, as it’s supposed to be.

  3. please.. you are either in or out.. im quitting to be green when it suits me… and then go burn fuel elsewhere… as it is an “independent” entity… its still Honda!

    at least be honest and say, its money and resource allocation. pure and simple.. don’t use the woke siht..

    1. Yes, HPD is a subsidiary of Honda but being under AHM, American Honda Motors, rather than being run directly from Japan, it has it’s own budget and decision making structure separate from Japan. It’s been around for 25+ years now involved with different levels of motor racing in North America and there was very little if any tech transfer or other cooperation between HPD and what is going on in Japan. HPD pretty much does what HPD wants in the US independently from Japan.
      Unless they want to run Fernando Alonso in one of their Indy 500 entries.

      1. my only point is they dont need indycar to sell a honda civic/accorrd .. i dont (and i think 90% do) buy a car based on who is competitive in indy or F1 (or any race category for that matter)

        just like BMW dont need F1 to sell BMWs!

        my only point was dont use the go green thing… thats all.. rest its just us banging the Keyboard here :) Honda dont care what i think :)

    2. As far as I can see they were totally honest and said it was resource allocation! Their resource (engineers working on F1 in Japan and UK) have been re-allocated to different projects within Honda in Japan. The other engineers working for HPD in the US just work on HPD projects, so are not being re-allocated to Honda in Japan, they are staying within HPD. Complicated yet simple!

  4. Yep, real simple. HPD runs independently from Japan, and Honda has a very strong IndyCar powerplant. They also sell a lot of cars in America.

  5. So RB buy the UK Honda team. Done deal.

  6. The return on the investment is far better because their cars are built in America and the bulk of races expose more investment
    preteens as than most places. Winning promotes sales. The other side of this story IS Grand Prix Racing and only moments of luck is the best they can let.

  7. It’s not about green targets or anything. It’s about the return of the investment. Indycat is far cheaper and Honda gets along.more from it. I said it when it was announced, they are leaving because they cannot make the numbers. The going green bit is just PR justifications…

  8. So Honda are going to fall short on so many non-carbon projects, it seems all the Japanese carmakers are so conservative that there going to miss the boat completely.

    So much hesitation, taking responsibility.

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