Honda will exit F1 at the end of the 2021 season, and was set to enjoy its final home grand prix in Japan this weekend prior to its cancellation and replacement with a race at Istanbul Park in Turkey.
To pay tribute and give thanks to Honda ahead of its departure from F1, Red Bull announced on Thursday that both it and sister team AlphaTauri will race with special liveries in Turkey.
Red Bull’s cars will race with a predominantly white livery inspired by the Honda RA 272 car, which became the first Japanese car to win in F1 when Richie Ginther took victory at the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix.
The team released a teaser video of the livery, which retains the Red Bull branding in a striking red colour against a white base.
AlphaTauri will feature the word ‘arigato’ – meaning ‘thank you’ – in Japanese writing on the rear wings of its cars in Turkey.
“We had all been looking forward to giving Honda’s Japanese fans a chance to celebrate our extremely successful relationship in Formula 1, on home soil at Suzuka,” said Red Bull F1 boss Christian Horner.
“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.
“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.”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen will be aiming to regain the lead of the drivers’ championship this weekend, having slipped two points behind Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton in Russia.
Honda has scored eight wins this season with Red Bull, seven courtesy of Verstappen and one via team-mate Sergio Perez.
“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,” said “Koji Watanabe, Chief Officer for Brand and Communication Operations at Honda.
“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.”