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Doors not closed on F1 return in 2026: Honda closely monitoring development in motorsports

HRC president also confirmed that F1 is heading towards carbon neutrality which is also Honda's top priority.

Aakash Srivastava Author

Updated - 13 July 2022 12:34 pm

In a significant development related to motorsports, Honda has confirmed that is it closely overserving the development in Formula One and assured the doors for their return to the track are not ‘closed.’ Notably, Honda’s top brass including Honda’s CEO Toshihiro Mibe, its chairman Seiji Kuraishi, plus HRC president Koji Watanabe and its director Yasuaki Asaki paid a visit to Red Bull Racing during last weekend’s race at the Austrian Grand Prix.

While the company has admitted on numerous occasions that it has not formally changed its intention to make a return to motorsports as one of the racers, its representative stated that F1 is a leading motorsports event and Honda is closely monitoring every development.

Speaking at the Red Bull Ring, Watanabe said: “Formula 1 is the top motorsports category, so we are always watching what is happening in the F1 world. We just finished and concluded our activities, so nothing has been discussed within the Honda about the 2026 season. But, it is not a closed door.”

However, the HRC president also confirmed that F1 is heading towards carbon neutrality which is also Honda’s top priority. “F1 is discussing to decide the regulations for 2026, and definitely the direction is carbon neutrality. That is the same direction as us,” he said. He further claimed that Honda would need to get its carbon-neutral road car program fully set on the course before serious consideration would be given for an F1 return,” he added.

Responding to queries by Motorsport.com  about the key factors Honda would need to get a green light for an F1 return, Watanabe prioritized mass production (road cars) and carbon neutrality as top-key factors. “I think there are several factors we need to watch. But once we decided to conclude the F1 because of mass production [road cars] and carbon neutrality, first we need to concentrate on this side,” he said.

He also stated that if Honda wants to make a return by 2023, then some tough decisions will need to be taken in 1 and 1.5 years. Notably, the Japanese manufacturer quit Grand Prix racing at the end of the last year, with an aim to divert its resources towards zero-emission technology in road cars. Following Honda’s exit, Red Bull took over the running of the Honda power units.

Honda continued manufacturing, assembling and support for the engines, with the badges of the Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) appearing on the Red Bull and AlphaTauri cars. F1’s major push for a carbon-neutral future ahead of its switch to new rules and sustainable fuels from 2026, has prompted speculations that the Japanese manufacturer could be poised for a return.

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