In between the Russian and Eifel grands prix, Honda announced it would be pulling out of F1 at the end of next year, ostensibly leaving the Red Bull group looking for a new engine supplier just a year after switching the senior team from Renault power.
Honda insisted that it was nothing to do with budgets or profits, that it was about its gearing up to be providing carbon-neutral transport by 2050 and needing to redeploy its F1 brains and resources to that task. Inevitably there was the question of whether it would have made the same decision if it had been winning world championships rather than stealing the occasional victory from the dominant Mercedes. Pierre Gasly’s recent Italian Grand Prix victory for the Red Bull junior team AlphaTauri made Honda the only hybrid supplier to have won races with two different teams. But that was neither enough nor timely.
There’s probably a certain irony that the boss of the Mercedes team that has so completely dominated the hybrid formula, Toto Wolff, believes Honda’s competitive position must have played a significant role in the decision.