For the Formula 1 (F1) Turkish Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing and sister team Scuderia AlphaTauri refreshed liveries to celebrate the their race-winning alliance with power unit supplier Honda on what would have been the auto giant’s home race at Suzuka if Covid-19 restrictions hadn’t seen the 2021 race cancelled.
The move is particularly poignant as it gives the manufacturer’s fans in Japan a chance to bid farewell as Honda has opted to leave the series at the end of the current season so the pandemic has prevented it from having a final home race goodbye.
A spearhead online video teaser supported by additional social content rolled out across the team and its engine partner’s digital platforms provide a glimpse of what fans will see on race weekend.
— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) October 6, 2021
For the Turkish race, held at Intercity Istanbul Park between 8 and 10 October, the twin Red Bull Racing RB16B cars of Max Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez will feature a predominantly white livery inspired by the legendary Honda RA 272 car in which US racer Richie Ginther secured the company’s maiden F1 win at the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix. While the rear wings of the AlphaTauri AT02 cars driven by Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda will feature the one-word message ありがとう(arigato,) meaning “thank you”.
“We had all been looking forward to giving Honda’s Japanese fans a chance to celebrate our extremely successful relationship in Formula One, on home soil at Suzuka. With the race falling victim to the pandemic, we just couldn’t let the weekend pass without paying tribute to Honda and its amazing home fans by bringing a little bit of its heritage to Istanbul,” explained Red Bull Racing Honda CEO and Team Principal, Christian Horner. “The livery chosen for our cars pays homage to Honda’s remarkable F1 journey and hopefully we can give fans another victory in those legendary colours this weekend.”
Koji Watanabe, Chief Officer for Brand and Communication Operations at Honda, added: “Everyone at Honda is extremely disappointed that the Japanese Grand Prix has had to be cancelled, while fully understanding and agreeing with the reasons behind this decision. We were especially keen to race at Suzuka Circuit, as it is our last year in the sport, at a time when both our teams are performing very well. We also appreciate that the Japanese fans were particularly looking forward to seeing Honda’s last appearance here and Yuki Tsunoda driving in his home race. We know that a special livery cannot replace what would have been a very exciting weekend, but we hope that Honda fans around the world, especially those in Japan, will accept this special livery as a small token of our appreciation of their continued support over so many years.”
From the end of this season to the end of 2024 Red Bull and AlphaTauri will continue to race with Honda power units after reaching an agreement to develop and maintain the current engine design despite the manufacturer’s decision to leave.
Since Red Bull’s Honda partnership started in 2018, the Japanese auto manufacturer has helped both Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri to multiple podiums; with Red Bull Racing scoring 13 victories to date and AlphaTauri taking a memorable win on home soil in Italy in 2020.
In total, Red Bull and Honda have together scored 35 podium finishes and 11 pole positions to date.