President of Honda Racing Koji Watanabe said that Honda Racing currently has no clear program from 2026: it will depend on market trends and the “green revolution” in the auto and motorcycle industry. Watanabe did not rule out that the current priority of HRC with MotoGP may again shift towards Formula 1.
European and Japanese manufacturers are confused: they do not see clear prospects for a bright “green” future. The automotive division of Honda Motor Co. intends to develop environmentally friendly modes of transport, the company has a program to completely abandon the internal combustion engine by 2035. But this is not an end in itself. In addition, there is no similar program in the field of motorcycle business, since there is no clear ideology and technological base for this yet.
At the end of 2021, Honda Racing officially stopped the participation program in Formula 1, transferring technology to the R&D division created by Red Bull in the UK. Now, Honda’s engines and hybrid power plant power four Formula 1 car of the Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri teams. With varying success. But Max Verstappen, who won the world title in 2021, is leading the championship now!
The visit of the HRC senior management to the home stage of Red Bull – the Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg hints that negotiations on plans for the future are in full swing. HRC President Koji Watanabe, Director Yaausaki Asaki, and General Manager Toshihiro Mibe arrived at the Red Bull Ring. Of course, there was increased attention from journalists gathered in Austria to the distinguished guests.
Watanabe stressed: “We have just completed our Formula 1 program, but we are not giving up on it. We are always following what is happening in the world of Formula 1. And at the moment there is no clear plan for the 2026 season, we have not discussed this internally yet. The door is not closed. We are waiting for the final confirmation of all the plans [of the promoter and the FIA].
As far as I understand, the FIA believes that from 2026 it is necessary to move forward on the wave of carbon neutrality. This corresponds to the plans of our company.
Probably, it will be good news for Formula 1 – the transition to carbon neutrality regulations. And if our programs match… No, definitely, the door is not closed! But before returning to participation in Formula 1, it was great to first start full-scale production of mass-produced environmentally friendly cars. We’ll see how we can handle it, and then we’ll discuss the likelihood [of returning to Formula 1].”
The moment of truth – strategic decision-making in motorsports – should come no later than summer-autumn 2023, so that HRC can plan to budget and re-equip its R&D. We are talking not only about Formula 1 but also about MotoGP, where they also discuss the possibility of switching to synthetic fuels in order to reduce CO2 emissions by 70-80% by 2026.