Honda have left Formula 1 with success, as the Japanese engine manufacturer played a key role in Max Verstappen‘s world championship. But, the last few years have had many downs as well as ups for Honda.
Back in 2015, at Honda‘s home Japanese Grand Prix, there was humiliation as Fernando Alonso criticised their engine over his radio.
“GP2 engine, aaaarrrghhh,” the Spaniard was heard saying as his McLaren car was easily overtaken.
Although Alonso didn’t mean to cause embarrassment to the Japanese company, he did mean what he said.
“It came from a place of frustration and maybe I should not say that, but I didn’t say it in the TV pen or the press conference,” Alonso later told F1 Racing.
“I was talking to my engineer in a private conversation. It was not meant to be public. But, the engine was very bad.”
McLaren parted ways with Honda at the end of 2017, with the Japanese company taking their services to Toro Rosso in 2018 and then also to Red Bull in 2019. This produced a strong 2020 for both teams, after Toro Rosso had become AlphaTauri, but Honda announced that they’d leave F1 at the end of 2021.
Despite this, 2021 was one of their best years yet in terms of performance as AlphaTauri finished sixth and Red Bull second in the constructors’ championship, with Verstappen‘s Red Bull car edging the F1 world championship in the final race.
As Honda wave goodbye to F1 for now, CEO Toshihiro Mibe reflected on the journey.
“For Honda, this title is the goal we set ourselves ever since we returned to F1 in 2015 and today we have written a new chapter in Honda‘s history,” he said.
Honda‘s F1 managing director Masashi Yamamoto added that the McLaren struggles paved the way for the 2021 success story.
“All the fundamental basis we have now that allows us to fight for the championship was built up in the McLaren days, so we achieved a lot of things there,” Yamamoto said.
“It was just a shame that we respected each other too much and it meant it didn’t really work well, because we respected them and they respected us but it didn’t quite click.
“But, we learned many things and that learning has accelerated our development in this Red Bull era.”