Honda’s Sakura facility will supply Red Bull F1 engines in 2022

Honda powered Red Bull leads 2022 Formula One Championship

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the Formula One World Championship in dramatic fashion at the last race of the 2021 season, which marked their engine supplier Honda’s first Formula One World Championship title in many years. Verstappen currently leads the 2022 championship standings.

Honda has a long and interesting history and association with the Formula One World Championship. The Honda RA271 first appeared at the 1964 German Grand Prix and took its first victory in 1965. The team withdrew after the 1968 season to concentrate on developing new road cars. Throughout the years Honda have competed and exited Formula One and they once again made that decision at the end of 2021.

Fortunately all is not lost, at the beginning of the year it was announced that Honda would maintain links with Red Bull throughout the Formula One engine freeze which is in place between 2022 and 2025.

The close partnership between Red Bull and Honda saw the Japanese manufacturer share its design with the team at the beginning of 2022, before the commencement of the engine freeze.

This partnership will also see Honda continue to maintain and supply the engines from Japan which it has designed, although they will no longer be badged as Honda.

The advantages for both entities are obvious, for example the fuel used in F1 changed this year to now contain 10% biofuel which required adjustments to re-optimise the operation of the internal combustion engine, something which Honda were able to do prior to the commencement of the engine freeze.

Since 2014 Formula One engines have consisted of a combination of an internal combustion engine and energy recovery systems resulting in a hybrid power unit. These advanced hybrid electrical systems recycle energy produced by the brakes and exhaust gasses.

Current regulations mandate a 1600cc, six-cylinder engine with the cylinders split into three, aligned in a V shape and assisted by turbocharging.

The MGU-K or Motor Generator Unit, Kinetic is a complex part of the F1 power unit that performs several roles. Massive amounts of heat, sees the brakes glow red with all the energy they are forced to absorb. The MGU-K is able to regenerate that energy into electricity that is fed into the Energy Store, which is a specialist battery. The MGU-K is then able to deploy this energy from the Energy Store directly to the drivetrain, giving the car an additional 160hp. Alternatively this energy can be routed to the engine to assist the turbo.

The MGU-H, or Motor Generator Unit Hybrid uses heat from the exhaust to drive a generator and this energy can also be stored or sent to the MGU-K. However, the primary function is to minimise turbo lag under acceleration and thereby maximise performance.

The Honda Red Bull partnership is advantageous for both parties. It allows Honda to to keep their proverbial foot in the Formula One door, while concentrating on other projects. The advantages for Red Bull include an engine package that is clearly competitive without needing to go looking for another engine supplier, or developing a new engine from scratch at very short notice.