Masashi Yamamoto believes Honda decided to leave Formula 1 too early, but he hopes the Japanese engine manufacturer can return to the sport in the future.
Honda only returned as the fourth engine manufacturer to Formula 1 in 2014 as suppliers to the McLaren F1 Team before they switched their allegiance to Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2018. In 2019, Red Bull Racing then also signed up to race with their engines.
Honda announced midway through the 2020 season that they would be pulling out of the sport at the end of 2021, and Yamamoto, the F1 Boss of the Japanese marque, says this was a company decision that was made too soon.
“Personally yes, I agree,” said Yamamoto to Motorsport.com. “But this is obviously a company decision and I understand which way the company wants to go, so in the end we have to accept that.
“But we always have the imagination, so we hope one day Honda will return to F1.”
Honda’s withdrawal meant they brought forward to 2021 the engine that they had been planning to introduce for 2022, and this engine helped Red Bull take Max Verstappen to his maiden World Drivers’ Championship.
And Yamamoto feels that they ‘completed’ their job in Formula 1 by taking the first drivers’ title for Honda since Ayrton Senna in 1991. Red Bull took sixteen victories in three years with the team, while Pierre Gasly added one more for Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda in the 2020 Italian Grand Prix.
“Of course it is sad, but we knew this from last October 2020 and therefore we knew that we had to push for it in 2021,” said Yamamoto. “We took a different mindset and looked at the decision in a different way, we tried to give everything to perform in the time that we had still left.
“We focused to win the championship in our last year, and now I think we completed our job in F1. We have met our target, even within the time frame we set for ourselves.
“Firstly, we had a partnership with Toro Rosso and a year later Red Bull came in. Our aim and also their aim was to win the championship within three years. Exactly that has happened in 2021, so it’s just a great story, especially as we put a lot of effort into this.”