Honda Returns To F1 After Retiring Just Last Year

Formula One / Comments

Only this time, it's in a totally different capacity.

Automakers brave enough to enter Formula 1, either as sponsors or partners, can have a bumpy ride at times. Honda has been part of the sport for decades and hasn't always had good days, but the automaker is now in a position to sponsor races instead of being chewed up by the day-to-day in the paddock. The automaker just announced that it would be the title sponsor for the Japanese Grand Prix later this year.

Honda's legacy in Formula 1 stretches back to the 1964 season and runs through some of the most legendary years in racing history. The automaker dominated the sport in the 1980s and 1990s as an engine manufacturer, taking both Constructors' and Drivers' Championships at various points, including years with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at the wheels.

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Following an unsuccessful run with McLaren that began in 2015, Honda moved to Red Bull's Toro Rosso and, eventually, Red Bull. The automaker exited Formula 1 after helping Max Verstappen take home the Drivers' Championship in 2021 but remains a partner for Red Bull's powertrain development arm.

Though F1 may be the pinnacle of motorsport, it's hardly the only racing series Honda's got its hands in. The automaker has participated in the World Touring Car Championship, the British Touring Car Championship, the FIA World Endurance Championship, and others. Various Hondas have competed, including the Civic and the NSX, to name a few.

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The Suzuka Circuit has been the consistent home of the Japanese Grand Prix starting in 1987, but there was a brief period in the 2000s when it was held at the Fuji Speedway. Shortly after, Toyota took over the track and decided to stop hosting F1 races due to economic conditions in 2009. In 2010, the sport returned to Japan at Suzuka, where it remains today. Ayrton Senna once famously lapped a 1992 NSX there, so the connection between the automaker and the circuit is a special one. If all goes well with this year's sponsorship, it's not hard to imagine that Honda will get more involved with F1 again, even if it's not directly responsible for performance on the track.

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