Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly have both shared the opinion that Honda “never really left” Formula 1 despite the company’s formal exit before 2022.
The teams for both drivers have continued to employ Honda-designed and built engines under the Red Bull Powertrain moniker.
Honda has had the logo of its racing division HRC on both cars (Red Bull & AlphaTauri) in its present role as basically a contractor. The official Honda logo will also now be back, starting at Suzuka, as part of a “strengthened” partnership between the firm and Red Bull.
Honda had already decided to commit to a revised agreement with Red Bull earlier this year, under which it will keep assembling the frozen-in-spec engines until the end of the existing rules cycle in 2025.
Since Red Bull’s planned Porsche cooperation fell through, the possibility that it will then take on the next set of power unit regulations has grown. Verstappen said: “It’s great to have the full [Honda] name back on the car,”
“HRC was already on the car, so… Honda never really left and of course, that makes it extra special that they’re back on the car just before their home Grand Prix. We’ve been working really well together, it’s been really enjoyable.”
“In terms of the working relationship compared to last year, not a lot has changed anyway. Just very happy that the name is back.”
Gasly agreed with Verstappen that the working side of things hasn’t really changed, despite Honda’s lessened presence in the paddock in terms of the corporate executives’ involvement as well as the hospitality.
When questioned by The Race if he had the impression that Honda hadn’t really left F1, Gasly responded: “That’s the thing. That’s personally the way I feel,”
“Because I’ve still been working with the same engineers, I’ve still been in contact with my Honda guys. I know that the job has been kind of split between Red Bull and Honda, but when we talk about the engine we always refer to it as the Honda power unit.
“So even for us we kind of feel like things have never really changed except a bit of paperwork.”
It is unknown if the newly updated branding agreement will result in additional efforts to raise Honda’s visibility as part of Red Bull/AlphaTauri’s efforts in F1.
It was suggested that the unit, which is now branded as Red Bull Powertrains RBPTH001, be given its original Honda moniker back on the entry list.
Gasly said: “I’m just glad that they’re coming back and they’re fully committing again to be 100% present and to show that because I think it’s in their spirit,”
“I’ve been working with them for many years. I know how efficient they are and when they really want something, they make it happen, I think it’s really, really great to see them committing to Formula 1 in the way they are doing.”