Red Bull have rebranded their power units as Honda RBPT for the 2023 Formula 1 season, based on the 2023 F1 Entry List published by the FIA.
Honda announced back in October 2020 their plans to leave F1 at the end of the 2021 season, as the company decided to turn its resources towards other initiatives related to carbon-free technologies.
After powering Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to the 2021 F1 Drivers’ Crown, the Dutchman’s maiden Title, Honda took a step back but remained with Red Bull as a power unit consultant, as the Milton Keynes outfit setting up Red Bull Powertrains (RBPT) to develop their own power units with the 2026 regulations’ reset in mind.
Honda were rendering their consultancy services to Red Bull from the start and throughout the 2022 F1 season through Honda Racing Corporation (HRC), the latter’s logo appearing on the RB18.
During the 2022 F1 season, Red Bull and Honda announced that they have extended their technical collaboration on the power unit front up until 2025, and went a step further ahead of the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix – where Verstappen secured his second F1 Title – and strengthened their relations with the Honda logo showing on the Red Bull RB18 and the AlphaTauri cars (Red Bull’s sister team) since the race in Suzuka.
Worth mentioning that along the way, and with Volkswagen showing interest to enter the sport, there were discussions between Red Bull and Porsche for an F1 alliance for 2026 and beyond that did not materialize, while Audi aligned themselves with Sauber.
For the 2023 season, Red Bull and Honda have taken a step forward, with Red Bull rebadging their power units from RBPT in 2022 to Honda RBPT in 2023, clearly shown on the FIA’s 2023 F1 Entry list below.
Honda register as F1 power unit supplier for 2026
Furthermore, and ahead of the November 15, 2022 deadline, Honda have registered as an F1 power unit manufacturer for 2026, based on the new power unit regulations the sport plans to introduce that year, which has also encouraged Volkswagen to enter the sport through Audi, while Porsche’s plans, after failing to agree with Red Bull, yet to be finalized.
During Honda’s 2023 Honda Motor Sports Activity Plan Presentation, and quoted by Motorsport Japan, Honda Racing president Koji Watanabe commented on Honda’s plans for 2026 and beyond.
“As HRC, we have registered as a PU manufacturer after 2026,” he said. “The F1 regulations from 2026 onwards are moving in the direction of carbon neutrality.
“In addition, the fact that electrification is also being promoted, and the carbon neutrality and electrification that Honda Motor Co., Ltd. is promoting, is the same. The targets match.
“As a racing company, we have registered as a manufacturer in order to advance research on racing,” he revealed, adding: “There is also the fact that November 15 was the [registration] deadline. We have registered as a manufacturer in order to continue [the research].”
It remains to be seen whether Honda will continue with Red Bull beyond their 2025 existing agreement, especially as the latter are planning to be self-sufficient on the power unit side with the huge investment they have put into their RBPT division.
What makes matter more interesting are reports claiming that Ford – who ran the Jaguar F1 team between 2000 and 2004 and sold it to Red Bull after leaving F1 – are interested in having a comeback as the sport continues to gain exposure and popularity stateside.
Reports claim that Ford are exploring options of having an F1 tie up with Red Bull, but more as marketing and branding exercise, providing technical support when needed but without being fully involved or buying into the team like Porsche wanted in its failed talks with Red Bull.
Will the “Blue Oval” make an F1 return? Watch this space…