Red Bull Racing will run a special one-off white-and-red livery at this weekend’s Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix as a tribute to power unit partner Honda.
Red Bull and Honda have been aligned since 2019 but the Japanese marque will officially bow out of Formula 1 at the end of the season.
Honda’s power units will nonetheless be taken over by the newly-formed Red Bull Powertrains division, in order to continue supplying Red Bull and AlphaTauri.
This weekend was supposed to be the Japanese Grand Prix but the event at Honda’s home circuit Suzuka was cancelled for a second straight year due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.
Instead Formula 1 will compete at Turkey’s Istanbul Park.
The white-and-red scheme that will adorn Red Bull’s RB16Bs is a tribute to Honda’s RA272 from 1965, with which Richie Ginther secured the manufacturer’s maiden Formula 1 win.
“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 Team Principal 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.”
AlphaTauri will also run a tribute by featuring the Japanese phrase ‘ありがとう’ (arigato), meaning ‘thank you’, on the rear wing of its AT02.
“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 Honda’s Koji Watanbe.
“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.”
Formula 1 teams are permitted special livery changes on a one-off basis if approved by the championship’s Commission and governing body the FIA.
McLaren sported a Gulf-themed scheme in Monaco earlier this year while Ferrari ran a historic burgundy livery at its home round in Italy last season.