Despite its time as an engine supplier coming to a close at the end of the year, Honda’s relationship with Red Bull Racing has kicked into a higher gear for the 2021 season, as the two entities look to secure their first drivers’ and constructors’ championships in the V6 turbo hybrid era. And while next year’s engines won’t bear any Honda branding, they will still carry lots of its DNA – including where it’s built.
According to Reuters, the Japanese carmaker is set to continue building Formula 1 engines at its research and development facility in Sakura. Speaking to reporters ahead of the weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix – where Max Verstappen clinched his third straight victory to close off an incredibly successful triple header – Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the move will give it time to set up its own power unit plant under the Red Bull Powertrains banner.
“Obviously as we gear ourselves up within Red Bull Powertrains, 2022 will be a transitionary year,” he said. “So we’re working with Honda to have a soft landing where the engines will be continued to be assembled in Sakura in 2022, before that process is being taken on in our new facility in time for 2023.”
Honda is doubling down on its commitment with the Milton Keynes outfit, as it’s also developing a 2022-spec engine in time for a freeze in development due to last until 2024. After the freeze, the sport will introduce completely new power unit regulations, for which Red Bull Powertrains will develop its own engines.
Verstappen’s win gave Honda its fifth straight victory, its longest streak since Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost won the first 11 races for McLaren back in its dominant 1988 season. It also extended Red Bull’s lead in both championships – Verstappen now has 182 points versus defending champion Lewis Hamilton’s 150, while the team is sitting at 286 points versus Mercedes-AMG Petronas at 242.
Aside from Red Bull Racing, Honda also supplies engines to Scuderia AlphaTauri, another team owned by the energy drinks maker and named after the latter’s clothing line.
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