Honda has dropped a bombshell on the world of Formula 1 after the Japanese manufacturer announced it will withdraw from the series at the end of 2021.
It leaves Red Bull and AlphaTauri on the search for a new engine supplier after taking on Honda for the last three seasons.
Honda returned to the sport back in 2015, enticed by the new turbo-hybrid power unit concept which replaced the naturally aspirated V8s. Joining forces with McLaren, they suffered a tumultuous period before being unceremoniously dumped in favour of French rivals Renault.
Since then, however, Honda has scored five victories and countless podiums as it continued to slim its power deficit to the dominant Mercedes outfit.
But the partnership will extend no further than the end of next season as F1 gets set to return to three power unit suppliers.
Honda had agreed to a short term extension for the 2021 season as it deliberated over its participation in light of the new technical rules for 2022.
Cost-cutting measures were put in place, but it seems this was not enough to convince the heads back in Japan to commit to the sport.
Red Bull and AlphaTauri have inked their allegiance to F1 until 2025 under the new Concorde Agreement, but today’s news leaves both teams in a sticky situation.
It is undoubtedly too late for a new manufacturer to join the sport and expect to be competitive; something demanded by a race-winning team like Red Bull.
Red Bull also dropped Renault in favour of Honda back in 2018, frustrated with the lack of competitiveness by the French marque. Whether Renault will oversee their past differences could by key in securing the short-term future of the team.
Mercedes and Ferrari are also unlikely to offer their power to a direct title rival, sorely testing Red Bull’s commitment to F1 and the Concorde Agreement after 2021.