Honda explains why it committed to IndyCar after announcing F1 exit

Honda F1 managing director Masashi Yamamoto has explained why the company extended its commitment to IndyCar racing.

Honda announced last week it will leave F1 after the 2021 season in order for the company to refocus on building battery and fuel cell electric vehicles to achieve net carbon neutrality by 2050.

A few days later, the US-based Honda Performance Development division which runs its IndyCar engine supply program, affirmed the company’s long-term commitment to the series. IndyCar does not yet use hybrid engines, but plans to introduce them in 2023.

Speaking in today’s FIA press conference at the Nurburgring, Yamamoto said “it was a difficult decision” for the company to leave F1. “We had to make the decision to work on future carbon neutral projects.”

“We also considered pursuing both Formula 1 and the work that we’re doing before the rapidly approaching requirement for carbon neutrality. In the end, the decision was taken to shift the top engineers for the work on future power units, et cetera.  And unfortunately, we were unable to continue with Formula 1 as a result of that.”

“Our work on IndyCar is run by HPD, which is an independent part of Honda within America.”

“In F1’s  case, a lot of our R&D staff are based in Japan, which meant that for our future work, we had to allocate engineers who otherwise had been working in Japan,” Yamamoto confirmed.

“However, given that Honda has customers all over the world for its automobile products, its motorbikes and general use products, there was the need for us to move our top engineers at an earlier stage to working on future carbon neutral projects.”